SIOUX CITY – Nick Opsahl didn’t have the conclusion to his junior year he wanted so he put the golf clubs away and spent a good portion of his summer swinging a baseball bat instead.
“Last year I started strong and struggled at the end,” said the North senior. “I think it was due to the fact that I played a lot of golf over the summer last year and I think I burned out at the end. So this summer I didn’t play a whole lot. I played baseball so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to be playing golf.
“I feel like I am coming into this season really fresh and it has helped a lot. I think it has helped me clear my mind and not think about a whole lot. Just go out and play well.”
Opsahl picked up his second win of the season on Thursday recording a 74 at the Dodge Riverside Golf Club in Council Bluffs. It was his second win of the season on the course while his other two starts resulted in runner-up medalist honors.
“My putting has been strong so far this year,” said Opsahl, who earns the Journal’s Metro Athlete of the Week honor. “It's funny because last year hands down it was the weakest part of my game. I don’t know what it is, but this year I have actually been putting really well.”
Opsahl is the two-time defending city champion and is looking to recapture the MRAC title he won as a sophomore but fell short of as a junior.
“(Those title) are very important because around the city we have some pretty good golfers,” he said. “Sergeant Bluff has a really good freshman this year and Jackson Sitzmann and Jackson Thompson over at Heelan and East has some good players. To be able to beat them at those tournaments the last couple of years is something I prided myself on because they are very good players.”
Opsahl has had an impressive prep career as he has more than 15 medalist honors in three plus seasons, he owns the 18-hole course record of 60 at Sun Valley and became the first metro player to reach state since Colin Mitchell in 2003. Opsahl made state as a sophomore where he finished 20th, but after missing out last season it is the biggest goal of his senior campaign to return.
“It was really disappointing,” said Opsahl of the conclusion of the junior season. “I felt for the first half of the year I was playing really well, I had a lot of confidence, and then just I got cold at the wrong end of the season.
“I was really disappointed about not making it back to state, but I hope this year I am able to make it back again and make a run at it.”
It is the reason he has grinded through one practice round after another and spent time on the range.
The 18-year-old works with a couple of golf instructors in the Omaha area from time to time to refine his swing.
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“He is such a good golfer with such a good swing,” said North first-year coach Aaron Kolbo. “Effortless power, technically so sound. He is a complete golfer.
“I am a golf geek and I like to geek out with him too. We talk about swing path, weight shift and angle of attack into the ball with the club. It is easy for guys to get off just a little bit and for Nick even a little miss is something he doesn’t like.”
Kolbo believes the team’s camaraderie keeps the game entertaining for it, and it helps Opsahl keep perspective no matter how his round went on a particular day.
“There are a lot of stressful parts of golf but to be able to be loose with your friends before the meet, after the meet it helps keep your mind fresh,” he said.
The son of Erick and Kim of Sioux City is a 4.0 student who is still deciding where he will attend college and if that will include golf or not.
“Obviously, if I got the opportunity to play college golf at school I would definitely take it up and love to do it,” said Opsahl, who is considering majoring in economics.
Amber Aesoph, Heelan ... The junior finished in a time of 19:39.57 as the Crusaders finished second as a team.
Maya Schmidt, SB-L ... The senior setter had 74 assists last week and sits in the top 10 in Class 4A.