Poplar Grove – Jake Goss won the boys’ golf titles at the Great Northern Conference for himself and the team.
“Jake made it so much easier for the rest of the team by winning six goals,” said Rockford Lutheran coach Kevin Flack.
Guse’s 2-under-par 70 Wednesday at Timber Pointe easily beat Rockford Christian freshman Gavin Hultman (76) and, most importantly, Byron Maison Brandt (77), a two-time Big Northern champ. This seven-stroke gap helped Byron top 322 over 326 even though Byron posted all four of his scores into the top seven.
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“This goes too far,” Byron coach Andrew Schlubb said. “It’s usually the other way around. Our first guy usually scores this low.”
“I’m very happy,” said Goss. “Conditions were tough today and I was ghost-free. It’s always windy here. There’s not a lot of trees, a lot of tall grass, it’s very open, so there’s always wind coming in from here. But I stayed out of trouble all day.”
“I was getting up and down when I wasn’t hitting the greens. And when I was hitting the green, I was engaged in two poses or one.”
Luke Carlson, Nate Ling, and Cory Henry all made 84 hits over the Lutherans to end a hexagonal tie for seventh place separately. As the last two Lutheran scorers had a pair of 92 – while Byron’s fifth was 86 – the Crusaders needed all four of his players to shoot 88 or better to win.
This was a new feeling for Henry. He is elderly. The other top three Lutherans are all sophomores. But Henry is the one who lacks experience. He only started playing golf two years ago, when he played with his grandfather once a week. He starts on the Lutheran tennis team and also plays club hockey. He joined the golf team last year.
“Golf was just a thing to do,” Henry said. “I had quite a bit of free time, so I thought I’d go out and play. Then I started working at Aldeen, my first job, so I got free golf when I wasn’t working and doing a lot of practice. I’m really happy with how good I went so quickly.”
“I actually needed to win this. I didn’t think about it. It means so much. I never thought I would be here. Even last year if you told me I would be in this place, I would never believe you.”
While the Lutheran won the championship, Byron captured a share of the overall league title by going 9-0 in two-way meetings at the conference. The conference gives equal weight to the doubles and the championship, giving schools one point for each team they excel at in both. Lutheran and Byron each finished 17 points. Dixon finished third with 14 points after finishing 19 strikes behind the Lutheran in the championship.
The Lutheran would have finished second in the overall standings if he hadn’t topped Dixon in the fifth-man tiebreaker after both teams hit 161 in a double-take in Cincinnati.
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“That was big,” Flack said. “This gave us a chance.”
While Byron came in favourite, winning all his duets by at least eight strokes, the Lutheran knew he had a chance. The Crusaders won the Genoa-Kingston Invitational Race last week. The previous week, they finished second at the Brad Fowler Invitational in Aldeen, beating NIC-10 Powers Boylan and Guilford.
“Jake is one of the best players in the area and everyone else on the team can do a great job,” said Carlson, who survived a pair of triple nets in his first four holes to shoot at 84. through pressure.
Byron is now hoping to do the same on Wednesday, when the Tigers, who have qualified for the state 14 times since 1999, begin regional play for Class 1A at Silver Ridge in Oregon.
“That would be a good tutorial for us,” Schlubb said of Byron, who also scored 82 by Brayden Baker, 83 by Davis Baker and 84 by Aaron Lorenz. “I’m glad that’s happening now. I hope we can reverse the scenario on Wednesday.”
Rockford Christian (12) finished fourth, followed by Stillman Valley (10), Rock Falls (7), Oregon (6), North Boone (4), Genoa Kingston (3) and Winnebago (0).
The final standings of the Big Northern Boys Golf 2022