June 2, 2011 at 9:23 a.m.
The North Branch boys golf team saved their best golf play for the end of the season.
After a regular season in which the team fluctuated between third and seventh, never higher or never lower, they shot the top score in the front nine of the North Suburban Conference Championships and the third best score on the back nine. Their combined score was good enough to top the leaderboard for the full 18.
The team was paced by leaders Jared Houle and Joe Fairbanks. Fairbanks was the top scorer for North Branch, shooting a 37-41-78. His score left him tied for third place overall in the conference behind Matt Cichoski of St. Louis Park and Nick Auman of Spring Lake Park.
Houle wasn't far behind. He's been North Branch's most consistent golfer this year, and he shot a 38-41-79 to slot in right behind Fairbanks.
North Branch's impressive score wouldn't have been possible without Fairbanks and Houle, but they really made up ground in their other three golfers, who carded nice scores. Mitch Barg shot consistently all day and scored a 40-40-80, Jon Buboltz played some of his best golf of the year and finish with a 41-41-82, and Regan Nelson shot a 43-42-85 for North Branch. Nick Kress rounded out the varsity line up with a 45-43-88.
The Vikings tied Spring Lake Park for first place on the front nine with a 156. It helped them that both Benilde-St. Margaret's and Totino Grace, the two teams who were most impressive in the regular season, faltered in the opening nine.
Over the back nine, both Benilde and Totino rebounded to finish tied for first, but they only shot 162s. North Branch stayed consistent and shot a 163, slotted in right behind them.
Spring Lake Park, who was tied for the lead going into the back nine, shot a 167 to finish in second place, four strokes behind North Branch. BSM, Totino Grace and St. Francis rounded out the top five in the conference.
Both Houle and Fairbanks won All-Conference accolades for their performances and Barg and Buboltz earned All-North Suburban Conference Honorable Mention for their efforts.
"Last week at the conference final 18 the boys played fantastic," Head Coach Tom Moriarty said. "I believe this is our first win in the North Suburban Conference. Back in the old Rum River our one day total, we would have been conference champs."
Despite the very tough conditions and adversity the boys have faced all year, it didn't stop them from peaking at the right time.
"I am really proud of these golfers and all the hard work in terrible weather they have put in," Moriarty said. "Joe Fairbanks and Jared Houle earned All Conference. Mitch Barg and Jonathon Buboltz earned All conference Honorable Mention."
Moriaty also noted that the team won the North Suburban Conference Academic team award for the season.
Fairbanks and Houle played the first 18 holes at the section tournament with scores that were putting them in contention to go to state tournament, unfortunately their last nine holes in the 30 mile an hour wind didn't hold up.
"We don't have time to practice 27 holes, it made a difference physically and mentally especially in the conditions," Moriarty said.
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