The Bethlehem Academy boys golf team is set to embark on its first trip to the Class A state tournament since 2008.
The Cardinals are led by their lone senior who has plenty of state experience as an individual.
Host site Pebble Creek in Becker has to feel like another home course for Khrystjan Petersen who’s back for his fourth appearance.
He’s ascended from a 28th place finish in 2016 (80-75) to a tie for seventh in 2017 (79-78) and second in 2018 (68-77).
For the first time, he’s got his team with him and has six players who can step up on a given round to post one of four team qualifying scores.
“That’s huge,” said BA coach Jake Piller. “That’s something we’ve never really had.”
Some Cardinals made the near 100-mile trek north to Becker for some extra practice. The team also received a designated practice round Monday afternoon.
Early in the season, BA focused more heavily on breaking down the game into chipping, putting, driving, etc. Now, the focus is more on playing golf holes and emulating competitive reps.
From there, players can hone in on the parts of their game that need work.
“We really believe they see the best results from practice on the course, not on the putting green, chipping, etc.” Piller said. You take a Khrystjan, he can spend hours on the range and work on shots. Then you’re talking seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders, they’re sitting on the range and after 10 mintues they’re ready to play.”
Along with Gopher Conference champion Petersen, the lineup will include all-conference honorable mention sophomore Brody Pavel, sophomore Elliot Smith, junior Ben Cohen, seventh-grader Brayden Larson and seventh-grader Willie Potter.
Their biggest challenge will clome close to the hole, particularly if the rain holds off and Pebble Creek plays firm.
“The greens are fast,” Piller said. “Being in the Gopher Conference, we play a lot of small town courses where greens are on the slower side of things. That’ll be a change playing on greens that quick. We’re fortunate for our home course (Faribault Country Club), their greens are fast. That’s the biggest thing. We struggled all year with three-putting. Hopefully we can improve on that.”
Ben Laffen of Sleepy Eye United was the 2018 individual champion and has since graduated.
SEU and Mounds Park Academy were the co-team champions with a score of 641. Neither are back to defend.
According to the June 3 Minnesota Golf Association boys individual rankings for all three of the Minnesota State High School League’s three classes, Community Christian’s Brett Reid is tops in the Class A field at No. 10. Petersen is No. 26 followed by No. 39 Kurt Lambert of Heritage Christian Academy and No. 45 Brady Raph of Pine River-Backus to round out those in the top 50.
Teams in the field, in order of section: Bethlehem Academy, Springfield, Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda, Community Christian, Willmar, Lac qui Parle Valley/Madison, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Laporte, North Woods/Cook, Fertile-Beltrami. Only LqPV (sixth place) and F-B (seventh) return from 2018 state.
Live scoring is available for free at iwanamaker.com. Tournament admission is also free.
BA tees off hole No. 10 Tuesday morning for round one of the 36-hole two-day tournament concluding Wednesday. Wednesday’s tee times will be released after Tuesday’s results are final.
7:30 a.m. — Ben Cohen (BA), Cody Sagen (W-H-A/L, Shaun Gullekson (F-B), Tyler Madison (HL-O/F)
7:39 a.m. — Brayden Larson (BA), Caleb Swenby (F-B), Isaiah Schmid (HL-O/F), Tanner Schneider (W-H-A/L)
7:48 a.m. — Ethan Koep (HL-O/F), Masen Nowacki (F-B), Trevor Johnson (W-H-A/L), Willie Potter (BA)
7:57 a.m. — Cort Christianson (F-B), Cory Renneke (HL-O/F), Elliot Smith (BA), Logan Arndt (W-H-A/L)
8:06 a.m. — Brody Pavel (BA), Joe Fischer (HL-O/F), Mason Schneider (W-H-A-L), Rylin Petry (F-B)
8:15 a.m. — Grant Wilson (F-B), Khrystjan Peterson (BA), Payton Marquarrdt (HL-O/F), Rece Wiedmann (W-H-A/L)