DAKOTA DUNES | The rain finally moved out of the area, but it was replaced by the wind, which wreaked havoc on the scores in the South Dakota Class A Boys State Golf Championship Tuesday.
Arnold Palmer-designed Dakota Dunes Country Club is difficult enough to navigate, but when you throw in a stiff breeze it becomes even tougher. Therefore, there was quite a disparity between scores from Monday’s first round and Tuesday’s second.
Aberdeen Roncalli was the steadiest and as a result captured the team title and also produced the individual champion in junior Lucas Schaefbauer. The Cavaliers finished with a 36-hole total of 321-328—649, overtaking first-round leader Dakota Valley.
Dakota Valley, the host school, had a one-shot lead after the opening 18 holes, but slipped to a 354 Tuesday, totaling 674 for state runner-up honors. The Panthers claimed second by a comfortable margin over Sisseton, which had 702.
“It was a great season for us, all firsts but three and we won our first conference championship,” Dakota Valley Coach Rodd Slater said. “We won the region and went up against a very strong field and lost to Aberdeen Roncalli at state. I think it’s only our third second-place finish all year and when you’re talking golf and high school kids, that’s pretty good.
“We got off to a tough start on the front nine today, there were a couple of eights on the card early and once it gets up into the wind it’s hard to control. We made some even bigger numbers on other holes. I think we played pretty well but on certain holes, like all the field, there’s a big number lurking and we found them.”
Tanner Hensley, one of three seniors on the Dakota Valley team, tied for sixth individually with 78-82—160. Hensley tied with Nick Lust of St. Thomas More for sixth.
“I thought we were going to pull it off but I’m 100 percent pleased with second,” Hensley said. “Today you would go from one hole with the wind at your back and the next hole in your face, so it was tough today.
“All of us just grinded really hard this season and were always out there practice and knew we were getting better every practice. I thought that I could push my team to get to this spot but I’m surprised the way we’ve played, it’s been awesome.”
Freshman Paul Bruns also posted a top-10 finish, tying for ninth with 81-85. Keaton Hensley tied for 17th with 84-90—174, Jameson Bull was 22nd with 79-97—176 and Jack Furlong tied for 31st at 82-98—180.
“Our players are finding out that big numbers add up faster than small ones,” Slater said. “But we’re runner-up in the state of South Dakota. I think these kids improved greatly during the season and it showed at state.”
Elk Point-Jefferson finished eighth, shooting 362-366—728. Tyler Leif posted the Huskies’ highest individual finish, 16th with an 87-86—173. Easton Kueck (85-89—174) tied for 17th, Hunter Goehring (94-94—188) tied for 43rd, Caden Stabe (96-97—193) tied for 53rd and Preston Kollbaum (96-113—209) was 71st.
Aberdeen Roncalli’s Schaefbauer matched par with 72 in the opening round and followed up with 77, finishing the tournament at 5-over-par 149. He scored a five-shot victory over Kolby Newborg of Tea Area, who shot 76-78—154, while defending champion Jacob Lee of Parkston was third at 78-77—155. Those three were the only players to break 80 in the windy conditions.
Brock Murphy of Tea Area was fourth with 77-81—158 and Nate Nielsen of Sisseton claimed fifth-place honors with 79-80—159.
“There were a couple things I switched up because of the wind today,” Schaefbauer said. “There were some holes where I thought about clubbing up but I would stick to my game plan, you will have a longer shot into the green but just swing smooth, keep your head down and follow through.
“This is awesome for the guys. We had this goal from the beginning of the year. We had one of our better teams come through Roncalli so we just said let’s go win the state championship. It was at a great course and it’s awesome for all of us.”
Interestingly, Schaefbauer tied for 25th at state as a sophomore last season, shooting 80-90—170.
“I had a good first day last year but I didn’t stay focused and lost sight of what I was really there for,” Schaefbauer said. “We had a chance to win it as a team and I wasn’t really focused on the team. This year I just wanted to go in with confidence and keep the tempo smooth.”
Schaefbauer offset three bogeys on the front nine with birdies on Nos. 3 and 7, making the turn at 38. He made double bogey on the 10th and bogey on 12 and 15, but righted the ship with a birdie on the par-3 16h and capped his championship performance by sinking a long putt in front of an appreciative gallery on the 18th hole.
Vermillion had three players competing individually. Ryne Whisler finished 15th with 86-86—172, while Willis Robertson (90-94—184) tied for 37th and Hunter Lavin (90-95—185) tied for 40th.