by Eric Oslund
For the second year in a row, the Elk River boys golf team advanced to the state tournament, though this year’s team had a bit of a different look. Only two players, Andy Larson and Dylan Chouinard, who were a member of last year’s team and this year they were joined by Marcus Ogren, Brady Holland, Matt Syverson and Ihle Majeres.
It was a big day for the Elks as former head coach Dave Conley was honored and inducted into the Hall of Fame at the tournament banquet Monday night.
The players then took to the course for the first of two days Tuesday morning with a 7:30 a.m. tee time for the first Elk. And when the final one finished on the 18th hole later that day, the Elks found themselves sitting in sixth place as a team out of eight.
And it was the freshman, Majeres, who led the way for them with a 76.
“That was a great effort by Ihle with a number of people watching him play with the best players, especially the (first day),” head coach Phil Johnson said. “Playing with the Minnetonkas and Wayzatas. Just playing with those guys stride for stride. Some great comments about his game and his ability to play with the best players.”
It wasn’t a bad place to be in considering the level of competition at this stage, and their lack of experience – they only had one senior on the team. They would just have to keep their heads down and go through Day 2 of competition where if everyone could have a good day, it were possible they could finish well on the leader board.
Unfortunately, though, that wouldn’t happen as the team’s youngest member, Holland, an eighth grader, was the only one to shoot a lower score the second day than he had the first, and he did so by never shooting worse than a bogey.
Those higher scores led to the team falling back on the leader board and finishing in eighth with a team score of 647.
“I don’t know if I can put my finger on it,” Johnson said of the higher scores the second day. “I don’t know is the kids were pressing a little bit just trying to make improvements on their scores from the day before. But sometimes with young men, and especially in the game of golf, sometimes the harder you try the tougher it gets.”
Through both days, the Elks were led by Majeres, who finished the state meet tied for 43rd with a score of 158. He was followed by Larson (163), Holland (164), Chouinard (165), Syverson (168), and Ogren (184).
Despite the eighth-place finish, the future remains bright for this team. They only lose one senior from their roster, two of their top-3 finishers will be a sophomore and freshman next season, and they have a lot more younger players who will be pushing the older ones for spots next season.
“Just a great a epereince for a young team. No. 1, we had only one senior on the squad this year and bring back three juniors, a freshman and an eighth grader into our team for next year. So the experience that these guys got is just invaluable. To compete at the state level against, especially yesterday, the top teams in the state. We were in the same grouping as the state champ Wayzata and runner-up Minnetonka.”