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Familiarity, confidence helping Midgets golf prior to Class A meet

When the Dickinson High boys golf team tees off at Souris Valley Golf Course in Minot today, it will mark the third time this season the Midgets have seen the course.

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Dickinson High senior Aidan Mansfield lines up a putt during the Dickinson Invite April 22 at Heart River Golf Course. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)

When the Dickinson High boys golf team tees off at Souris Valley Golf Course in Minot today, it will mark the third time this season the Midgets have seen the course.

After starting the season there and competing there at the West Region meet last week, members of the team feel well-acquainted with the layout, making for a confident group heading into the Class A state meet, which continues tomorrow.

“You know what clubs you should be hitting, what shot you’re coming up on,” Dickinson junior Jerzy Martin said. “The (East Region) hasn't played this yet, so there’s definitely an advantage to knowing what it looks like.”

The Midgets aren’t banking on familiarity, though. The last week has been dedicated to pinpointing where each golfer needs to improve the most.

“A lot of times in practice, we’ll get 37, 38 (through nine holes),” Dickinson head coach Sara Berglund said, “and in a tournament, we’ll get a 43, so we’re looking at what accounts for those five strokes. Course management and club selection is huge. That plays a big part in scoring well.”

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Coupled with that, Berglund said, is making sure the golfers take advantage of useful shots - to get on a roll - and forgetting everything else.

“If you play really well tee to green but three-putt it,” Berglund said, “you can’t take any momentum off that. It’s about finding what works. You have to be sure to play the hole all the way through.”

Martin, who qualified for state as an individual for the first time in his career, shot a 76 during his practice round Monday. In hopes of repeating that performance, Martin said he has to rely on what got him here in the first place.

“Especially coming off (Monday), how I'm hitting my driver and my putts,” Martin said, “everything in between just needs to go well.”

In his first trip to state, Berglund expects Martin to push emotions to the side and show well.

“You’re playing under a lot of pressure, but this isn't the only sport he plays,” Berglund said. “He’s a competitor. He doesn't let bad shots bother him, and he knows how to get over it.”

Senior Aidan Mansfield is making his second appearance at state, after also qualifying as an individual last season.

Even since then, when he placed in a tie for 15th, Mansfield has seen himself make strides that he hopes leads to a top-10 finish.

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“Over the course of the season I’ve really been hitting my irons close to the pin,” he said. “Putting is really not my issue anymore. I’m reducing the three-putts, and I’m two-putting and one-putting most of my holes. … It feels great. I’m confident in my ability to score well, and I’m just free-wheeling it and not pressuring myself as much.”

With Mansfield as the team’s No. 1, Berglund said his scoring allows the other players to be more at ease.

“You have to have guys that can grind through the hard times and still score, and he can do that,” she said. “He comes in with those lower scores and that helps others play more relaxed, knowing they have a score that allows them to play a little more aggressive.”

After Dickinson tied for sixth place with Jamestown at the regional, the tiebreaker went to each team’s fifth scorer, which on that particular day was sophomore Hunter Myran. For the Midgets to find the team success they hope for as a team, they’ll need another strong outing from their younger golfers.

“I think Davis (Donnan) has helped us out a lot, staying low, not pressuring himself as much,” Mansfield said. “When he does that, he scores well. Hunter, he’s a very consistent player in that high 80s range, which is good as a sophomore.”

The Midgets will also benefit from senior Matt Schaefer’s state experience from last season, and Martin said Dylan Pokorny has been really consistent as of late as well.

“They’ve all stepped their game up. If everyone just plays their game and shoots mid- to low-80s, that'd be perfect,” Martin said. “We’re all capable of doing it.”

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