April 26, 2012 at 8:37 a.m.

Wildcats and Vikings host meets on same day

Wildcats and Vikings host meets on same day
Wildcats and Vikings host meets on same day

Despite some late spring chills that have swept over Minnesota recently, both the girls and boys golf teams fit a conference meet in early last week on a beautiful day that was made for hitting the little white ball around. Boys The boys golf teams took to the Chisago Lakes Golf Course across the street from the high school.

North Branch happened to win the conference tournament last year as they really came on strong late. To begin the conference season, they had all their golfers back, but they couldn’t quite repeat the feat, as they had a few golfers that struggled to find their late season groove this early. Jared Houle was the top scorer for the Vikings, shooting a two-over 38 on the day. Jon Buboltz, who was mostly North Branch’s fourth score last year, carded a 40 on the par 36 course and was the second best golfer for North Branch on the day. In the third, fourth and fifth spots, Mitch Barg, Joe Fairbanks and Regan Nelson all carded 41s for the Vikings. Nick Kress rounded out the varsity group, shooting a 43 on the day. As a team, the Vikings shot a 160, which was good enough for fourth place and eight team points.

St. Louis Park won the meet with a 151, Spring Lake Park was second and Benilde-St. Margaret’s was third with a 158. Riley Gannon of BSM was the top individual scorer on the day, shooting a two-under 34. “Our 160 is good enough to earn a trip to the Dairy Queen, but it’s not good enough to win in this conference,” Head Coach Tom Moriarty said bluntly. “We need to get two or three players below 40 for nine holes. We have the players capable of doing this.” Moriarty was already looking forward to the meets North Branch had this week to improve on that 160. Chisago Lakes ended up finishing sixth on their home course, shooting a 164. That score tied them with Totino-Grace, but the Eagles’ fifth golfer had a better score, earning them the tiebreaker over the Wildcats.

Chisago Lakes’ top golfer was senior Garrett Darling. He’s seen the course a bunch and he knew what to expect out of the bounces and quirks of the course. Darling shot a two-over 38 on the day, leading the Wildcats to that sixth place finish. Carter Haskins, a fresh face on the varsity lineup this year, carded a 41 in his 2012 debut. D.J. O’Brien scored a 42 for the Wildcats and senior Gus Lindquist rounded out the varsity score for CL with a 43. Bryce Thompson and Tyler Buhr both made their varsity debuts for Chisago Lakes, shooting a 46 and 51, respectively. The Wildcats’ sixth place finish earned them six team points in the race for a conference champion.

They’ll need to trim a few of their scores if they want to get into the upper echelon of the North Suburban Conference. Girls The North Branch girls golf team actually opened their season a day late last week after their opening competition at the Pine City Scramble was postponed due to high winds. With the postponment though, the Vikings were able to open the season at home as they hosted the first North Suburban Conference meet of the year at the North Branch Golf Course.

Despite the wonderful weather conditions, the young Lady Vikings just couldn’t overcome their lack of experience as they finished in seventh place out of nine teams. The two elder statesmen of the team, senior Lauren Ibinger and junior Emily Lawrence, led the Vikings with matching 57’s on the day. Lawrence was the only Viking that was able to keep a very high score off of her card and play a relatively mistake-free match. Freshman Janice Elkerton was just behind the two leaders, shooting a 58 for the day. Sophomore Hannah Gomes carded a 59 to round out the varsity score of 231 for the Vikings. Sophomore Emily Carlson (61) and sophomore Sarah Harris (64) rounded out the lineup for North Branch. The 231 was good enough for seventh place as Benilde-St. Margaret’s took the team title home from North Branch with razor thin margin of victory. The Red Knights shot a 186, St. Louis Park was second with a 187 and Irondale was third with a 188. The Vikings were mostly on an island in the standings, finishing 25 strokes behind sixth place Totino-Grace, but 11 strokes in front of eighth place Fridley.

“The whole conference is very young this year and I don't think it's a coincidence that the three teams at the top are the oldest,” North Branch Head Coach Dave Ambers said after the home meet. “Our golfers played okay for the first time out, but, with exception of Emily Lawrence, they each had one or two big holes that drove their scores higher than we expected. More experience should help them.” The Chisago Lakes girls team took their lumps in the first conference meet of the year, as expected.

They have a very young and very inexperienced team, and they just couldn’t avoid the big scores on some of the more important holes on the North Branch Golf Course. Katelyn Sargeant led the girls as the top player for them, but most of the season for the Wildcats is going to be dedicated to getting simple rounds of golf under the girls belt so they can grow as players and get more experience.


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