East makes its way WestWest Fargo co-head coach Steve Anderson stated it like, “There are no surprises here, we’ve played each other enough, so we all know what’s going on.”
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
West Fargo co-head coach Steve Anderson stated it like, “There are no surprises here, we’ve played each other enough, so we all know what’s going on.”
The six teams and individuals from the East Region made the journey to Dickinson to join the teams and individuals from the West Region for the Class A state golf tournament that starts at 9 a.m. today.
“It’s another tournament. Don’t try to treat it any differently than all the other ones,” West Fargo’s Connor Holland said.
The East’s two powerhouses this season are defending state champion Fargo Shanley and West Fargo.
The two teams battled with each other during the regular season and at the East Region Tournament. Shanley came out the victors in the tournament, but Holland hopes to turn the tables.
“We won EDC last year and they (Shanley) won state, so hopefully we flip-flop and give it a run at state,” said Holland, who has the lowest scoring average in the state at 72 strokes.
Shanley has three golfers who are in the East’s top five and have the second lowest team scoring at 303.43. Thomas Strandemo and Grady Meyer are tied for second at 73.83. Tyler Rivard rounds out the fourth average at 73.86.
“My No. 1 through 3 (golfers) are usually really steady,” Shanley head coach Don Johnson said. “Sometimes if my 4, 5 and 6 players don’t play well, then we don’t play well. If we can get those other three players to pick it up a little bit, we’ll be just fine.”
Holland, who finished second in the East Region Tournament after losing in a four-hole playoff to Fargo South’s Landon Poss, leads the Packers with a team average of 302.29. Sophomore Riley Johnson has the fifth-lowest average in the East at 74.14 and senior Payton Johnson rounds out the top 10 with a 78.14 average.
“We’ve been playing well,” Holland said. “Hopefully we can just get two good days, really coming together as team and play well.”
West Fargo is hoping the past doesn’t repeat itself as co-head coach Chuck Gad said the team hasn’t done particularly well on the first day.
“In the last three years, we haven’t played well on the first day of state,” Gad said. “Then we beat everybody in the second day, but it was too late. You can’t too far behind on any of these teams.”
The Packers plan is to stay within contention after the first day, because dropping too far off the lead is going to make it tough to recover.
“We want to get out to a good start in the first day,” Anderson said. “We would like to jump out to a lead. If we could that would really be nice.
“That first day is going to be big for everybody. Nobody can go in there 10 to 12 shots behind. It really gets difficult to comeback down 10 to 12 shots.”
However, don’t count anyone from the West out.
Bismarck Century won the West Region Tournament at Heart River Golf Course last Wednesday and they want to bring that magic in again.
“We want to just build on that,” Century head coach Lynn Gress said. “We just need to keep thinking of that. Golf is a game that you have to reflect on your good moments to carry on.”
During the East Region Tournament, Holland and Poss battled for medalist. Poss said the weather forecast for the first day of the tournament is supposed to be “breezy” and a solid short game is going to come into effect.
“That’s what I did at the region tournament,” Poss said. “I didn’t hit the ball great, but I made a lot of putts. That’s what you need when it’s windy out.”
Poss is currently playing with an injured left wrist, but he said the wrist is getting stronger and he’s more comfortable playing now.
“Last year, I think I kind of went downhill a little bit,” Poss said. “I had this wrist injury, but it’s gotten better and I can focus more.”
Holland, who is headed to play golf for North Dakota State, wants to end his senior season with a bang by standing on the podium as the state medalist.
“I sure do. That’s always the goal,” Holland said with a smile.
Poss knows it’s going to be tough to win the medalist, whether the player is from the East or West.
“There are a lot of great players in the East and in the West,” he said. “I’m kind of excited to see what happens.”
There are many different ways teams can gain momentum heading into the state tournament. Shanley and Century won East and West titles, respectively. The Deacons got a surprise from No. 6 golfer junior Benjamin Wolbaum.
“I think it will help,” Johnson said. “My No. 6 player that day shot a 74 at Edgewood. That’s a good score for him and now he realizes, ‘Yeah I can do this.’ I think that gave him a lot of confidence.”
Gress said his team is just ready to get out on the course.
“I’m proud of these guys,” he said. “I’m just ready and so are they. They just want to go and they want to play.”
Strandemo, who wasn’t in the Deacons lineup since he was an eighth-grader because he was moving around the world with his family, said being on a team that everyone can shoot low 70s makes everyone’s jump easier.
“Everyone on our team is almost like a captain,” Strandemo said. “They know how to play and it definitely does make our job easier with those four, five and six guys that can go low at any time.”
Though West Fargo’s dreams are to win a state title, Gad and Anderson said their golfers are as calm as can be.
“They are a good bunch,” Gad said. “We just go out and play as hard as we can and whatever happens, happens.”