FIELD TWP- In what North Woods Head Golf Coach Will Kleppe termed “the cherry on the top” of a better-than-expected season, the Grizzlies claimed fourth place in the team standings of the …
FIELD TWP- In what North Woods Head Golf Coach Will Kleppe termed “the cherry on the top” of a better-than-expected season, the Grizzlies claimed fourth place in the team standings of the Class A state golf tournament last week on the Pebble Creek Golf Club course in Becker.
The Grizzlies’ hopes of a higher finish in the eight-team field largely disappeared on the first day of the 36-hole event when they found themselves trailing third-place Legacy Christian Academy by 23 strokes at the end of the round. Kleppe said the biggest challenge his team faced was getting used to the greens.
“We don’t get a lot of practice on greens like that – they were extremely fast with a lot of breaks and undulations to them,” Kleppe said. “It certainly took some adjustment from our guys to figure out where to land their shots and hit some putts outside of six feet.”
Senior Sam Frazee was the one who saw the adjustments pay off the best. Sitting in a five-way tie for 21st after a disappointing first round of 81, Frazee carded the third best score of the second round, a one-over-par 73 that vaulted him to 12th place overall.
“To bounce back and go one over on the second day on that course was fantastic,” Kleppe said. “He got some shots to drop and his short game was working well.”
Frazee, Ian Olson and Davis Kleppe were the team’s strongest trio throughout the regular season, and they were again at state, all finishing in the upper half of a competitive field. Olson was runner-up to Frazee this time with a two-day total of 169 to tie for 35th, and Kleppe was just one stroke behind at 170, placing 40th. Beyond their scoring, seniors Frazee and Olson and junior Kleppe were vital to the overall success of the team this season in how they mentored younger and/or less experienced teammates, Coach Kleppe said.
“I’m super proud of Sam, Ian, and Davis,” he said. “They’ve done a great job of talking kids through course layouts. They always spend a lot of time walking the less experienced guys through the course, telling them what to avoid and what shots to play. I think that was valuable to a guy like Eli Smith - he had a pretty good idea of what the (Pebble Creek) course was going to be. We super appreciate their willingness to do that, because at the same time they have their own games to think about. It’s something we relied on, and for Sam and Ian it’s definitely something we’re going to miss.”
Only a sophomore and the youngest player on the Grizzlies’ state squad, Smith’s 182 total was fourth best on the six-man team. Junior Ty Fabish carded an even 200 for the tourney, followed by senior Brant Boutto’s 233 to round out the individual scoring.
Kleppe said the whole team appreciated their state tourney appearance.
“Getting there is always the biggest goal, of course,” Kleppe said. “It was just great for the kids to get to a tournament like that where things were about as normal as you can get. There were fans there. There was a gallery. We played in a group with eventual state champion Fertile-Beltrami, so there was a lot of enjoyment with that.”
The Grizzlies had one player in the field for the girls Class A state tournament, freshman Tori Olson.
Playing on the same Pebble Creek layout as the boys, the course proved to be a tough challenge for the youngster, but she was consistent throughout the tournament. She carded identical front-nine scores of 50 over two days and shot 51 and 52 on the back nines to finish in the middle part of the pack at 46th with a two-day total of 203.
The Grizzlies did not qualify as a team for the event, which was won by Lac qui Parle Valley.