Spartans advanced to third straight state golf tourneyThe Superior High School boys golf team is one of only three Division 1 school competing in its third straight WIAA Boys State Golf Tournament Monday and Tuesday at University Ridge in Madison. The other two are Arrowhead and Marquette.
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
The Superior High School boys golf team is one of only three Division 1 school competing in its third straight WIAA Boys State Golf Tournament Monday and Tuesday at University Ridge in Madison. The other two are Arrowhead and Marquette.
“We finished 16th out of 16 teams in 2010, 13th place in 2011 and it’s been our goal all year to finish in the top 10 in the state this season,” SHS coach Dan Schulz said. “This group of competitors believe in themselves and their teammates so I think anything is possible, they exceed my expectations almost every time the touch the course.”
Earlier in the season the Spartans were lucky to finish in the top 10 of some invitationals, but now that goal is within reach because of late-season heroics by all five members of the Spartan golf team, Chris Rochon, Nolan Holcombe, Blake Johnson, Spencer Sitek and Daniel Burger.
“At the sectional in Marshfield we were in fourth place (166 strokes) after nine holes, seven strokes behind the leaders from Eau Claire Memorial (159 strokes),” Schulz said. “We just wanted to hang around all day and give ourselves a chance down the stretch because the final few holes has been where we have played our best golf all year.”
And that was the case again on Tuesday at RiverEdge in Marshfield, as the Spartans played the final two holes at even par as a team which is an amazing accomplishment considering the difficulty of those holes and then factoring in the pressure of the moment.
“Our golfers seem to be unflappable at the end of their round, they excel when other succumb to the intense pressure,” Schulz said. “That’s something you can’t coach, I’m just thankful our players love to compete and they all possess that intangible quality that gets you through to the finish.”
The Spartans went on to finish first at the sectional tournament seven strokes ahead of River Falls, a team they defeated in sudden death a week before in the regional tournament.
“Our kids have proven themselves year after year in the playoffs,” Schulz said. “We were the eighth seed in the sectional last year and came out of nowhere and to do it again as the sixth seed entering the regional’s this year is a terrific accomplishment and speaks volumes about our players.”
Playing exceptional golf down the stretch have been Holcombe and Johnson, both seniors.
“Holcombe has improved more in the last two months than anyone I’ve ever coached,” Schulz said. “He began the season averaging low 90s and now I’m surprised when he doesn’t shoot in the 70s. He’s a tremendous athlete who chose baseball over golf his freshman and sophomore years. But since he has committed his time fully to golf, we have seen unbelievable improvement.
Holcombe and Bake carded 80s at regionals, which was good enough for a tie for second place individually and Rochon came in a stroke back at 81.
“This year’s playoff stretch has been a total team effort, but I’m especially pleased with the play and leadership of our seniors, Chris, Blake and Nolan,” Schulz said. “We waited in the clubhouse for nearly two hours after we finished our round before realizing we had earned an opportunity to participate in a team playoff for the regional championship. We responded with all five guys playing a flawless hole in 30 mph gusting winds. We made five pars for an even par team total to defeat River Falls in the playoff to claim the regional trophy.”
At the sectionals the Spartans were led by Rochon’s 79.
“He carded that score on one of the most difficult high school golf venues (RiverEdge in Marshfield),” Schulz said. “But again it was a total team effort with the other scores coming from Spencer Sitek, Daniel Burger and Nolan Holcombe at 83, 84 and 85, respectively.
“Spencer is one of the most consistent golfers I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching,” Schulz said. “He’s a solid ball striker, good around the greens and a real student of the game who takes course management seriously.
“Daniel has been one of the best freshman in the state all year. He’s a grinder who always shoots the lowest score possible, gets the most out his talents and is as dedicated of golfer as I’ve ever met. He eats, drinks and breathes golf.”
SPARTAN SPIN: The Tigers tee off 7 a.m. Monday and noon Tuesday. … To Schulz’s knowledge, this may be the first time Superior has won a golf sectional title.”