by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Ed O’Donnell picked an opportune moment for his first hole-in-one Friday. His ace came during tournament play, the Elk River Quarterback Club Golf Fundraiser, helping his team tie for second place. And he happens to be a former Elk quarterback himself.
“I played golf and football for Elk River, and college golf at St. Cloud State, and I’m 35, and I had never gotten one, before today,” said O’Donnell, who has shot as low as 68 at ERGC. “It was fun to watch!”
The ace came on Elk River Golf Club’s No. 2 hole, a par three. The whoops of his teammates could be heard several holes away. Back at the clubhouse, O’Donnell couldn’t stop smiling. He won a set of irons for the feat.
“The ball hit about 15 feet past the hole, and spun back,” said O’Donnell. “You can still see the spot where it hit.”
The ace helped his team shoot an 18-under 54. John Osterman, Robb Osterman, Jason Anderson and Steward Bastian were his teammates. O’Donnell said he and his buddies have been playing in this event since shortly after high school.
Asked about his year as Elks quarterback, 1995, O’Donnell said, “We scored a lot of points, but we couldn’t stop anybody.” They finished 2-6.
This is the 22nd year of the QB Club tournament and it might have been the first ace. Phil Johnson, longtime director, said he could not recall another hole-in-one.
Bodnar’s fivesome is champion
Three-time ERGC champion Mike Bodnar teamed with Chris Miller, Tim Kratzke, Nick Andrican and Tom McChesney to shoot a 22-under-par 50 and win by four strokes.
“Just an all-around good day,” said Bodnar. “We eagled three of the par five’s. Kratzke sank a wedge on No. 12 for an eagle from about 110 yards. The ball spun back in. Everybody contributed. Everybody made putts.”
There were no former Elk football players in the group. Their youth sports background was a mix of hockey and golf, Bodnar related.
Martin and “Where’s Waldo” quintet tie for second
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Paul Martin and two-time ERGC club champion Matt Smerdon teamed with Matt Johnson, Tyler Grupa, and Nate Kopetka to tie for second with an 18-under-54.
This is the sporty quintet, all former Elk athletes, that always shows up with some kind of outrageous uniform; this year they went with “Where’s Waldo” duds, complete with striped sox and knit stocking caps.
Martin, who holds most of the Elk receiving records in football, is coming off the best of his nine NHL seasons with regard to team success. The Penguins reached their conference finals and were one of the final four still going in the 30-team league.
Ottos have perfect attendance, shoot 14-under
Bob Otto and his four sons, all former Elk multi-sport standouts in the 80’s, teamed to shoot a solid 14-under-par 58. Joel Otto, who still lives in Calgary, where he helped the Flames win the 1989 Stanley Cup, made the trip to join Ed, Kurt, Kraig and Erik.
“We look forward to this every year,” said Ed. “Sometimes one of them will be working or out of town, and not available, but we had everybody today. We often have a second (Otto) team, too, but the grandkids are at the point now where they are working during summer.”
The boys generally get together on July 4, every other Christmas, most Thanksgivings and the QB Club tournament, he said.
Joel was the only Otto who played golf for the Elks. Ed likes to point out that Joel made state one year was ahead of Tom Lehman for a day. Joel, a bit embarrassed, grinned, “That’s a complete fabrication,” but Ed insisted it’s true.
Hamilton optimistic about senior-driven Elk team
Elk football coach Steve Hamilton played in a group including activities director Mike Cunningham and their wives.
Hamilton, who’ll start his third year at the helm on Aug. 12, has been conducting summer workouts with his staff. The Elks were 6-6 last year but finished strong and won their section championship, the first football trophy at ERHS since 1992.
Asked for a “pre preview” of 2013, Hamilton offered:
“I’m really happy where we are at on the offensive line. We are ahead of where we been. For a lot of these guys, it’s their third year starting, and they look like it. We’re going to be pretty good on both sides there (the line). Offensively we will start nine, possibly 10, seniors, and with that many seniors, we should be pretty good. But we’ve got long way to go, too.”
In the backfield, the Elks return quarterback Austin Larson and record-setting fullback Denis Bardashevskiy, with got good depth at both slots, said the coach.
The Elks will open Aug. 29 at (gulp) Eden Prairie, their most daunting lid-lifter opponent in many years, maybe ever, the behemoth that’s won the last two state 6A crowns and eight overall. A game at Eden Prairie is prep football’s equivalent of visiting Yankee Stadium.