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Mitchell boys golf sets sights on top-three finish at state golf tournament

The Kernels boys' state tournament participants: Lincoln Bates, Jackson Childs, Asher Dannenbring, Macon Larson, Noah Larson and Ashton Reimnitz.

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Mitchell High School's Jackson Childs lines up a putt at Hole No. 9 during a triangular at Lakeview Golf Course on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021 in Mitchell. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

Expectations and confidence levels are high for the Mitchell High School boys golf program leading into the Class AA state tournament on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 4-5, at Broadland Creek Golf Course in Huron.

The Kernels, who placed 11th as a team a year ago behind Macon Larson’s 12th-place individual placing, feel they’re capable of a top-three finish this year and have their sights on a potential school record.

“I think we have, as a team, the ability to shoot better than a lot of those teams,” Larson said. “Our goal is third place at state, and I think we’ll have the chance to do that. We also want to break the school record of 306, and that’s a reachable goal.”

Mitchell’s state tournament participants will be Lincoln Bates, Jackson Childs, Asher Dannenbring, Macon Larson, Noah Larson and Ashton Reimnitz.

Despite having relatively consistent team placings this season, players have been “riding the roller coaster,” according to co-head coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt. However, if they can keep big numbers off the scorecards, the Kernels should at least be in contention to accomplish their goal.

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“We’ve played really well and we’ve played really bad, so I think we understand the difference in those rounds and we’ve seen what we need to do to shoot a good score,” Kreutzfeldt said. “For us, it’s going to come down to whether we can take away the big score. Our issue all year has been turning bogeys into doubles and doubles into triples, so can we stay away from the big miss, keep the ball in play and just be solid, that’s the biggest thing.”

Of the nine events Mitchell has competed in that featured at least eight other Class AA schools, the Kernels finished fourth or better six times.

The bad news: One of the rounds that didn’t garner a top-four finish (318, sixth place) was the Huron Invitational, played on the same course as the state tournament. Kreutzfeldt describes the course as “challenging” and “really, really long.” The par-72 course played 7,112 yards during the Huron Invitational.

The good news: The Kernels feel that round can be significantly improved upon. For the more veteran players on Mitchell’s roster, including Macon Larson and Childs, they’ve played the course several times both in competition and during the off-season, so familiarity shouldn’t be an issue.

“Broadland is an attackable course if you play it right and we know where to miss since we’ve played that course a lot,” Larson said.

Added Childs: “Broadland is a longer course, but a good ending course because it kind of has something for everybody.”

Kreutzfeldt identifies fellow Eastern South Dakota Conference schools Pierre, Yankton and Harrisburg as teams Mitchell has battled with for placings all season, and Watertown as being the team the Kernels measure themselves against. Brandon Valley, Sioux Falls Lincoln and Sioux Falls O’Gorman should also be in the hunt for top placings.

"Pierre has been really solid, and we’ve been close with them along with Yankton, Harrisburg and that whole group," Kreutzfeldt said. "Watertown is probably the best of them, but everybody else has been about the same. Any one of us could end up third through sixth or worse. It’s really close.”

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Mitchell has posted a team mark of 313 strokes or better six times this season, including a season-best 308 on three occasions, the most recent of which came during the Mitchell Invitational on Sept. 17. On Thursday, Sept. 30, Mitchell shot 311 on its way to a triangular win over Brookings and Sioux Falls Washington in the final tune-up before the statewide competition.

As Macon Larson chases a potential second straight top-15 placing, the other Kernel golfers have displayed the ability throughout the year to shoot scores that would put them in contention as well. While it might be easier said than done, they’d do well to emulate the senior’s mindset going into the competition.

“I’m just trying not to put too much pressure on myself and trust that I’ll be able to step up and hit golf shots,” Larson said. “I’m not putting a number in my head or a placement in my head, I’m just trying to go out and play.”

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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