Kernels finish eighth at Class AA boys golf championships
Lincoln Bates, Macon Larson lead the way for Mitchell
HURON — With a two-day total of 645 strokes, the Mitchell High School boys golf team finished eighth at the South Dakota Class AA golf championships Tuesday at Broadland Creek Golf Course.
“Today, it seemed like the team started off pretty good, while yesterday we started a little slow,” said junior Jackson Childs, who shot 162 for the event. “Then today we just kind of died out a little bit at the end. We didn’t make putts when we needed to and shots just didn’t fall where we wanted them.”
The Kernels displayed consistency, posting nearly identical team scores of 322 and 323 across the two-day competition, but slipped behind Yankton, Brandon Valley and Pierre on Day 2 to narrowly miss out on a top-six place finish.
Sioux Falls Lincoln and Sioux Falls O’Gorman shared the top overall place in the team standings after 36 holes with two-day totals of 604. Lincoln shot 302 on both days, and led the team competition by seven strokes after Day 1, but O’Gorman posted a tournament-best 295-stroke team score on Tuesday to draw level and force a playoff.
The teams sent each of their six players out to decide the team playoff, with the low four scores on each team counting. The teams tied at Hole No. 1 with three pars and a birdie, before O'Gorman's Radley Mauney sunk a birdie at No. 2 to clinch the title for the Knights.
Watertown (619), Harrisburg (625), Brandon Valley (634) rounded out the top five teams, with Yankton and Pierre tying for sixth at 641.
Individually for Mitchell, junior Lincoln Bates stood out on Tuesday. Bates, who finished as Mitchell’s top individual performer with a two-day total of 159, improved by three strokes (81 to 78) from Monday to Tuesday and finished in a seven-way tie for 21st place.
“I think I started off alright but fell off toward the end of the course both days,” Bates said. “Hole 17 is especially tough with a lot of hazards. I think we all could’ve played better, but the course played really tough this week.”
While Bates felt he didn’t play up to his potential over the final sequence of holes, Horan was quick to point out the growth Bates exhibited throughout the season and what next season could hold.
“Every time you play a round of golf you come out feeling you could’ve done a little better, but Lincoln has a lot of really special talents,” Horan said. “He hits the ball further than almost anyone I know of, and he’s pretty good with his wedge game too. He’s improved so much over the course of the season and he should be a big factor near the top of the state next year.”
Also contributing to Mitchell’s team total on Tuesday were Macon Larson (81), Childs (82) and Noah Larson (82). Asher Dannenbring (85) and Ashton Reimnitz (96) rounded out the individual scores for the Kernels. Macon Larson’s 160 total was good for a 28th place tie, while Childs 162, T-34th) and Noah Larson (164, T-39th) also placed in the top 40 in a field of 92 golfers.
Watertown’s Jake Olson (142) defended his four-stroke lead from Monday to take the individual title over Lincoln’s Luke Honner (145), as O’Gorman’s Radley Mauney (148) leapfrogged into third place with an even-par 72 on Tuesday. Lincoln’s Bennett Geraets and Rapid City Stevens’ Jackson Swartz tied for fourth place at 150 strokes to round out the top five overall finishers.
While Mitchell fell short of its lofty top-three goals, there is a sense of contentment within the program for the efforts at the state tournament and all season long.
“We still had a shot at the top-six and it’s been a solid year,” Horan said. “I can’t fault the way they’ve played here. We came out and performed both days. There’s just a lot of good high school golfers here today. It’s so close. A stroke here or a stroke there, a missed putt or a penalty shot can make all the difference. But we were right there and I think we’re satisfied with the year we had.”