West Fargo wins 1st state championship; Packers sophomore Riley Johnson holds on to lead for medalistRiley Johnson set foot on the No. 18 green with all eyes on the gallery fixated on the West Fargo sophomore.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Riley Johnson set foot on the No. 18 green with all eyes on the gallery fixated on the West Fargo sophomore.
Johnson was poised and showed no sign of nerves as he posted a one-under par 71 to be crowned medalist at the Class A state boys golf tournament on Wednesday at Heart River Golf Course.
“I thought this was just another Sunday morning that I go out and play,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to have fun, hit good shots, which I did, and make putts.”
Johnson and the Packers also achieved an honor that has been three years in the making — a state championship.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), we got to that point where we got on top a little bit,” West Fargo co-head coach Steve Anderson said. “Today we were able to close the door and make it happen. This is a long time coming for us. We’ve been real competitive for three or four years now.”
“We’ve been third, second, second and been blown out the first day, and the second day we beat everybody,” West Fargo co-head Chuck Gad added. “They really played good today.”
Johnson supplied a 72 on the first day for a tournament total of 143, which was five strokes better than teammate and runner-up Connor Holland.
Holland, who led the East Region in scoring averages this season with a 72, followed up a tough first day with a two-under par round (70). Holland was named Class A Senior Athlete of the Year.
“Yesterday everybody was pretty limited, because the wind was ridiculous,” Holland said. “Today I felt like what I needed to do and got the job done.”
The senior added that he couldn’t be happier for Johnson.
“I’m extremely happy for Riley Johnson,” Holland said. “That’s awesome. He’s a sophomore winning state. Nothing better.”
The second day has never been the problem for the Packers. West Fargo held a seven-shot lead coming into Wednesday and with favorable scoring conditions, the team posted a 294 for a two-round total of 606.
“We’ve been used to playing in great weather this year,” Johnson said. “That’s what we showed today, a 294. We’ve been waiting for this moment forever.”
West Fargo’s final two players adding to the scoring mix was Payton Johnson (76) and Nick Evin (77).
Fargo Shanley was runner-up in the team championship with a 622. The Deacons had four players shoot 80 or better, including Grady Meyer, who shot a 90 on the first day, firing off a team-best 74.
“That’s the way that Grady plays all the time,” Shanley head coach Don Johnson said. “That 90 was a shock, but that’s golf. He played well today.”
The other three scores for Shanley were Michael Storandt (75), Thomas Strandemo (76) and Tyler Rivard (79).
“We were ready to play the game, we were just outplayed today,” Don Johnson said.
Though West Fargo and Shanley battled each other all year, the golfers are great friends. They even formed a two-team pyramid for photographs after the tournament ended.
“These kids are great friends, too, and that’s what’s kind of cool about it,” Anderson said. “They play together all summer.”
Bismarck Century nabbed third place after putting together solid round of 302. The Patriots ended with a two-day score of 628.
“Realistically, we weren’t going to catch up with West Fargo and I knew Shanley would play better today,” Century head coach Lynn Gress said. “I felt satisfied.”
Tyler Miller, the Patriots’ No. 4 golfer, posted a 73 after a tough first round (92). Gress said it’s nice to see Miller score well at the state tournament because he wasn’t able to participate last year.
“He was ineligible last year, because of the move. He came from the (Twin) Cities, and for Tyler to shoot a 73 was definitely needed,” Gress said.
Century also had Troy Ressler (74), Jacob Dehne (76) and Sean Ternes (79) add to its team total. Dehne placed third individual with a 152.
“Jacob has been on my varsity for five years now and for him to have a decent day was good to see,” Gress said.
The other golfers rounding out all-state honors were Grand Forks Central’s Ty Kennedy in fourth (153), followed by Bismarck High’s Nick Nustad in fifth (154). There was a tie for sixth place with Wahpeton’s Ryan Ames and Valley City’s Nick Jenson each scoring a 155. Four players tied for eighth place with 156: West Fargo’s Nick Evin, Fargo Davies’ Zach Overvold, Rivard and Williston’s BJ Mahar.
The final honor of the day was the Class A Coach of the Year.
Between the four nominees, all eyes when to Vern Brew of Bismarck St. Mary’s, who is retiring after coaching for 31 years. The Saints finished fifth.
“It’s nice to have my peers recognize me,” Brew said. “I’ve enjoyed working with these guys for a long time. I’m just really appreciative of them voting me in.”