Knopik wins top flight of WDJT openerThe school year is over and state golf tournaments are done, but high school players continue using the summer months to improve.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The school year is over and state golf tournaments are done, but high school players continue using the summer months to improve.
Dickinson Trinity’s Nathaniel Knopik shot an even-par 72 on a sunny day with a light breeze to win the championship flight of the season-opening Western Dakota Junior Tour on Monday at Heart River Golf Course.
“I'm just striking the ball well,” Knopik said. “I hit 12 greens in regulation and I was under 30 putts. I was putting well.”
Knopik credits a strong junior season playing for the Titans, who took third at the Class B state boys golf tournament.
“I use my (high school) golf season as a warm up for this,” Knopik said. “It all leads up to it and adds on for next season.”
Bismarck Century’s Troy Ressler finished runner-up in the championship flight, shooting a 77. Ressler said he has no complaints about finishing second to Knopik.
“It feels good,” Ressler said. “I’m happy with second when a 72 takes first.”
Ressler, who helped the Patriots to third place at the Class A state boys golf tournament, said the summer has the same competition but a different feel to each tournament.
“It’s like a relief almost,” he said. “It isn’t as stressful and it’s more fun.”
The competition in the field is mostly golfers from Class A and Knopik said it’s good to perform well against those players.
“Not as many Class B players come and play the West Dakota Junior Tour, this is more Class A,” Knopik said. “It’s a little better competition, but I like it. That’s where I golf better.”
The WDJT is a 10-tournament summer event through the Dakota Junior Golf Association.
Dickinson High’s Shay Ridl was facing the same competition. Nonetheless, Ridl said it is always great playing against a high level of competition.
“You build some relationships,” Ridl said. “They make you go harder. You see players consistently shooting well and you play with them you try to do what they do to make yourself better.”
Ridl’s state tournament was put on hold because of lingering back problems. He withdrew from competition the first day, but put together an 80 on the second day.
“Right now I’m focusing on getting my back healthy again,” Ridl said. “This is my first tournament back since the injury at state, but I’m going to work really hard on my short game.”
Ridl posted a 78 for ninth overall, but struggled on his opening nine, shooting a 40 before settling down with a 38 on the back nine.
“It felt good to finish out with a couple of birdies,” Ridl said. “Overall, it was a good finish.”
The summer season has just started and Ridl said the Tour for him is about one thing — getting better.
“It feels great,” Ridl said. “I feel like the summer tournaments are where you improve the most, high school tournaments you compete the most. Summer tournaments you grow a lot as a player.”
Landon Huber of Bismarck Century won the first flight with a 76, while Jersey Kelly finished runner-up in the first flight (77).
Jordan Smith of Bismarck won the 15-year-old division with a 75 and Michael Schmidt won the 12-year-old with a 45.
In the girls division, Minot’s Haili Duchscherer won the 18-year-old division with an 88. Jamestown’s Sierra Bennion won the 15-year-old division with an 87. Dickinson’s Gabrielle Knopik won the 12-year-old division with a 71.
West Dakota Junior Tour
At Heart River Golf Course
16-18: 1, Nathaniel Knopik, 72. 2, Landon Huber, 76. 3, Troy Ressler, 77. 4, Jersey Kelly, 77. 5, Nick Nustad, 78. 6, Jacob Dehne, 78. 7, Nick Stavn, 78. 8, Jake DeForest, 78. 9, Shay Ridl, 78. 10, Jordan Beyer, 79. 11, Tyler Kast, 79. 12, Derek Weininger, 79. 13, Brent Weber, 91. 14, Grant Dvorak, 80. 15, Tyler Miller, 81. 16, Matt Schirado, 83. 17, Taran Albright, 81. 18, Austin Schauer, 85. 19, Patrick Bourgois, 97. 20, Braxton Heupel, 81. 21, Landon Klein, 90. 22, Jeffrey Pitcher, 90.
13-15: 1, Jordan Smith, 75. 2, Ty Jones, 80. 3, Willie Jahner, 80. 4, Connor Hellman, 82. 5, Zach Miller, 82. 6, Jordan Christianson, 91. 7, Zach Aasen, 99. 8, Carter Klein, 101. 9, Tony Kostelecky, 105. 10, Tyler Kostelecky, 140.
10-12: 1, Michael Schmidt, 45, 2, Cole Bennion, 48. 3, Dylan Pokorny, 51.
16-18: 1, Haili Duchscherer, 88. 2, Annie Nelson, 93. 3, Alex Leidholm, 99.
13-15: 1, Gabrielle Knopik, 71. 2, Megan Billadeau, 71.
10-12: 1, Sierra Bennion, 87.