Once 18 holes were complete, the River Wilds Golf Club clubhouse filled up with high school kids Tuesday afternoon.
Easton Chaffee, the Blair Bears' low-scorer, stood at the food counter, warming up after hours out in less-than-spring-like conditions. His scorecard had a few more strokes than he's used to this season.
“I'll live with an 85 because I'm still living right now,” Chaffee said.
Coach Ross Udey's BHS golf team finished fifth out of 12 teams in the Bear Division of the massive, 22-team Bennington/Blair Invitational. Fort Calhoun, meanwhile, was eighth in the cold as Arlington took ninth in the 10-team Badger Division.
Overall, Elkhorn Mount Michael carded 315 team strokes to win the Badger, while Elkhorn North's 321 was good enough to claim the Bear. The Knights' Trevor Gutschewski (70 strokes) and the Wolves' Harrison Weddell (76) were the tournaments' medalists, too.
Seemingly every golfer who completed all 18 holes felt accomplished, though.
“It felt good to get done because of how cold it is,” the Pioneers' Owen Newbold said. “But, I mean, every tournament has been close to this. So, I'm kind of getting used to it now.”
Cold weather and wind — which was less of an issue Tuesday — have been constant themes this season.
“Honestly, during the spring, you just kind of get used to crappy weather,” Blair's Adam Grote said. “You know it's not going to be nice when you play.”
It certainly wasn't Tuesday, but Washington County golfers still contended for medals across two divisions.
Chaffee, Grote lead BHS
Two Blair teams played 18 hometown holes at River Wilds with Chaffee's lineup carding 383 strokes. Individually, he took 85 swings, finishing eighth in the Bear Division.
“There was definitely some ups and downs, but I started off hot,” the BHS standout said. “Then I kind of, I'd say, kind of fell off.”
Chaffee said the low temperature took its toll. It started to wear on him toward the end of his round.
“When it's low-40s all day, your muscles can never warm up fully,” he said. “And I would say the wind doesn't help because it just makes your game not as precise.”
Still, Chaffee earned a top-10 finish, while Grote was 14th with 92 strokes.
“I drove the ball really, really well,” said Grote, a senior. “Probably the best I've driven it ever.”
In addition, Luke Ladwig and Connor Wayman shot identical 103s as Kalvin Lorenzen carded 111 swings — including one clean shot out of the bunker and onto the second green within a few feet of the hole.
Kyle Studanski, meanwhile, led Blair's 11th-place second team with a 114 over 18 holes. Nick Wayman shot a 116, Xander Miller carded 117 swings and Nick Rothlisberger took 118. Ryan Ray returned to the clubhouse with 122 strokes, too.
Newbold shoots Pioneers' low
Newbold led Fort Calhoun's eighth-place finish in the Bear Division with his own 13th-place effort.
“My approach game was on-point today,” the senior said. “One hundred in, I was hitting it to 10-, 15-feet or closer.”
He closed his 18 holes with 90 of the Pioneers' 400 strokes overall.
“I had a couple of three-putts, but I was mostly two-putting,” Newbold added. “My short game kept me in it a lot.”
Landon Miller and Owen Miller shot even 102s to finish second on their team and 29th overall. Tyler Eastman added a 106, while Dylan Boldt shot a 107 for coach Dustin Humphrey's varsity lineup.
Rosenbalm cards 94 for AHS
Had they been in the Bear Division, the Arlington Eagles' 393 golf strokes would have been good for seventh Tuesday at River Wilds.
Instead, coach Scott Parson's team was ninth in the Badger Division with senior Frankie Rosenbalm's 18-hole, 94 leading the way.
“My driver was really good today,” he said. “I didn't hit any out.”
The Eagle was 33rd in the Badger Division, but would have taken a tie for 20th in the Bear.
“My putting was good. My chipping was good,” Rosenbalm continued, detailing his day. “But I struggled a little with the irons. It was just so cold that it was hard to get a feel for them.”
AHS' Jacob Meehan and Josh Hamre broke 100 strokes, too. Meehan finished with 97 after 18 holes, while Hamre carded 99.
Consistent team-leader Eddie Rosenthal, meanwhile, shot a 103.
“I can improve on a lot of things,” he said from inside the team van, avoiding the cold weather after the meet.
Stokely Lewis rounded out the Eagles' lineup, finishing with 112 strokes as well.
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