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Boys capture top three spots to win 4th straight Section title

Austin Rusness watches a putt approach the hole during the Section 8-2A meet Monday at Longbow Golf Course in Walker. Rusness captured medalist honors with a two-under par 70. BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE

There was a little bit more of a sense of urgency for the Detroit Lakes boys’ golf team heading into the defense of their Section 8-2A championship, after Fergus Falls finished just three strokes behind them in the Sub-Section round last week.

Extra motivation and the chance to go for their third-straight Class 2A state championship was more than enough fuel to go with their extra-deep and talented lineup, as the Lakers ran away with the section with a 295, which was 21 strokes better than second-place Crookston.

The Class 2A state meet will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at The Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan, with the boys teeing off at 7:30 a.m. both days.

The Lakers did it by taking the top three individual slots, including senior Austin Rusness’ medalist position after shooting a two-under par 70.

Behind him was senior Karter Smith with a one-over par 73 and junior Michael Herzog, who carded a 75.

The fourth and final scorer was sophomore Tanner Schnathorst, who was the Sub-Section medalist, with a 77. Rounding out DL’s card were sophomores Christian Hedstrom with a 78 and Ben Mallow with an 81.

The Lakers have the two top rated golfers in the state, led by Smith’s 70.2 stroke average and Herzog’s 72.6 mark.

Rusness is fifth overall in the state at 73.8, while Mallow and Hedstrom are tied for sixth with an average of 74.6.

“It’s great to have all six golfers have your back and if you have a down day, they are there to pick you up,” Rusness said.

The Section 8-2A medalist has had an up and down season, but with his two-under par, it certainly looks like he is heading into the state running on all cylinders.

Rusness’ putting was strong, with only three three-putts on greens.

He shot a 33 on the back nine, after stroking a 37 on his opening half.

“I basically just go hole by hole,” Rusness said. “I was striking the ball well. It feels good playing this well today heading into state.”

Smith, who has been playing as DL’s No. 1 golfer and is a back-to-back state runner-up individually, was happy to see his team shoot their lowest section score ever.

“Our depth is good, we have six or seven guys who can shoot low any given day,” Smith said. “We can’t worry about other teams, we just go out and play our game. You just go out and work as hard as you can.”

The notion that a team or individual can fall anytime on the unpredictable golf course was a strong driving force for the Lakers.

It’s been a thought instilled by DL head coach Bob Gorden and followed by his teams each and every year.

The Section 8-2A meet was no different, Herzog said.

“You can lose anytime in golf,” Herzog said. “The section meet is always tough, so it’s nice winning our fourth one in a row. I just love our seniors and I didn’t want this meet to be the last one we get to play with them.”

That won’t be the case now, as the Lakers will head into their fourth consecutive state meet playing for their fourth state championship in the program’s history.

But keeping their minds focused on their games will be the key.

“We don’t want to be playing the other teams, we need to worry about our game,” Gorden said. “Our strength is our depth, too, and that showed last year when all six of our golfers counted their scores in the two days of the state meet.”

Herzog said his teammates and he are ready to claim title No. 3, but the Lakers know they will have to earn it.

“No one cares who won state last year,” said Herzog, who will be partaking in his fourth state tournament. “We are looking forward to it, because it’s a great golf atmosphere and we are used to it.

“Great memories are created there.”

Laker results - Section 8-2A meet at Longbow Golf Course in Walker, Monday, June 3

Team results (*State qualifier): *Detroit Lakes 295, Roseau 316, Crookston 320, Fergus Falls 324, Hawley 334, Thief River Falls 336.

DL results: Medalist: Austin Rusness 37-33-70; 2. Karter Smith 38-35-73; 3. Michael Herzog 39-36-75; Tanner Schnathorst 38-39-77; Christian Hedstrom 41-37-78; Ben Mallow 42-39-81.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.