by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
There aren’t many golfers in the wrestling community but that doesn’t stop dozens of wrestlers, parents and boosters from turning out for the Elk River Wrestling Golf Extravaganza benefit tournament each year.
“It’s an awesome event with a lot of people who don’t play golf coming out once a year for this,” said John Peterson, former Elk coach. “It’s more like a family reunion than anything else.”
But there are a handful in this crowd who do play golf regularly and among them were the winning team and the first guy to get a hole-in-one in the tourney’s 16-year history on Friday at Elk River Golf Club.
The winning quarto for the second straight year was Peterson, Tyler Hemmesch, Brad Wenlund and Jake Berger, who shot an 18-under-54.
“John plays here a couple couple a week. Brad, Jake and I play in a league at Daytona,” said Hemmesch, who was a two-time state runner-up at 215 pounds. “John was my coach and I recruited a couple buddies who are good golfers.”
Wenlund had the highlight-reel shot of the day, said Peterson, a “bomb” from 50 feet downhill for a birdie on No. 5.
Dave Fedie sank the historic hole-in-one — appropriately enough, since he’s the guy who started the tournament when his son Adam was the Elks’ captain. He aced the 165-yard No. 15 hole, which has an elevated green so he didn’t see it drop.
“The ball hit about four feet in front of the hole and rolled in,” said Fedie, 54, about his first ace in 42 years on the links.
“It felt right when it left the tee, and I knew it would land on the green, but I didn’t think it would go in. That was lots of fun! I’ve been close several times before.”
That was a prize hole, too, and he got 25 bucks for a $5 investment.
Rick Roche, former Elk and assistant coach who’s run the tournament for about a dozen years, was delighted that the wrestlers finally got an ace. Told that the football team’s tourney had one last year, he laughed, “Well, sure, but those guys are real golfers! We’re pretty hard-core wrestlers here.”
Ninety-two golfers on 23 teams participated. They had a silent auction and completed the event with lunch.
Among the alums on hand were brothers Chris McAlpine (two state titles), Tom McAlpine (one state title and the school record for wins) and Matt McAlpine. They teamed with John Zmunoa to shoot 63 which delighted Tom — “Nine under par!” — even they they were back in the pack.
“We’re not real golfers,” said Chris. “We haven’t been at this (tournament) in about 10 years, but we’re finally all getting settled in the area now.”
Roche designated this tournament to give special recognition to all the Elk wrestlers who’ve been state champions or runners-up. Nine of them were on hand.
The second-place team with 57 was Larry Jordan, Peter Jordan, Paul Jordan, and John Haus.
Tying for third with 58’s were the team of Jim Fritz, Jon Grunewald, Paul Dilley and Kevin Corde, and the team of Tom Osberg, Candi Osberg, Brad Skomra and Toni Hill.