Cardinals believe in a bright future after fifth place finish

Alexandria gained valuable experience in the first time at the state tournament for four of its players. The Cardinals now try to use that experience to build big things in the coming years.

Alexandria senior Grant Rebrovich holds his follow through after his approach shot on the back nine during day two of the Class AAA state tournament on June 16, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Alexandria knew it would be one of the youngest teams at the Class AAA boys state golf tournament this week at the Bunker Hills Golf Club.

That youth showed a little bit on day two of the tournament, but the experience as a whole gives the Cardinals a lot of hope for the future with this group as their nucleus.

Alexandria finished fifth out of eight teams after shooting a two-day score of 613 that included a 309 during Wednesday’s second round.

“It’s nothing to scoff at. It’s pretty honorable to come here and represent the section and play decently well here and place fifth,” Alexandria’s lone senior, Grant Rebrovich, said. “I had higher hopes. I thought we could have got it done this week, but there’s always next year for these guys. One of these years, they’ll be at the top.”

A team score of 304 on Tuesday left the Cardinals in fourth place but just six shots back of first-place Edina after day one. That all became moot with the way Maple Grove played on Wednesday. After shooting a 301 in the first round, the Crimson shot a 283 in the second round to run away with the team championship at 584. Edina was second with a score of 600.


Alexandria sophomore Braeden Sladek watches his tee shot during his second round of the Class AAA state tournament at Bunker Hills on June 16, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

“I knew we had a chance after day one, but I didn’t think they’d come out and shoot that low a number,” Alexandria sophomore Braeden Sladek said of Maple Grove. “It was impressive what they did.”

Sladek led Alexandria after shooting 2-over par 146 (73, 73) to take 15th individually.

That score might put him in contention some seasons, but 10 different players shot under par. Nate Stevens of Northfield won with a 10-under 134, and Minnetonka’s Ian Meyer shot 65 Wednesday to finish at 136. Sladek finished with five birdies over the two days.

“I felt pretty good. I didn’t get as many putts to drop as I wanted to, but I hit the ball alright,” he said. “Didn’t have my best stuff, but I grinded it out and posted two decent numbers.”

Rebrovich lauded as Cardinals’ leader

Rebrovich was Alexandria’s second scorer with a 149. He tied for 21st and shot a 78 in round two after shooting a 1-under 71 on Tuesday.

“It was pretty cool. I hadn’t played well all year, and I’ve been grinding pretty hard to get there,” Rebrovich said. “It just felt good to put it all together for a solid round (Tuesday), and then I just grinded it out without my best stuff today to come in with a decent number.”


Alexandria senior Grant Rebrovich lines up his putt on his 11th hole during day two of the Class AAA state tournament at Bunker Hills on June 16, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Rebrovich could not find his rhythm early this season, and his confidence wavered some.

“No matter what I did to fix my swing or work on my short game, on the course in tournaments I still couldn’t commit to everything,” he said. “These last couple weeks of having no tournaments and no pressure, it was fun to kind of get everything dialed in.”

Head coach Brady Swedberg was thrilled to see his senior captain go out with a strong state tournament. He lauded Rebrovich’s attitude and commitment to this group all spring.

“It meant everything to these young guys who never played varsity golf before,” Swedberg said of Rebrovich’s leadership. “They knew he was struggling, but he never really showed it. He stayed positive, he kept working hard and kept encouraging the young kids. They’re learning from him every day, so to have a leader and a captain like that is something these kids will never forget. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

The next step

Alexandria's Bennett Olsen chips from just off the West's No. 1 green during his second round at the Bunker Hills Golf Club on June 16, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)


Freshmen Bennett Olsen (59th, 79, 81 -- 160) and Jack Holtz (80th, 87, 80 -- 167) and 8th-graders Ashton Sladek (77th, 88, 78 -- 166) and Carver Larson (77th, 81, 85 -- 166) all showed flashes of their talent in their first-ever experience at the state tournament.

“There’s no way to fully prepare for your first state tournament,” Swedberg said. “You get here and the atmosphere, the golf course -- everything is just bigger. It’s different, and they did great. Carver and Bennett played well (Tuesday) and didn’t play their best today. Ashton and Jack didn’t have their best (Tuesday) and they bounced back today. They all got a taste of how tough it can be out here, but they also got a taste of playing some good golf.”

Braeden Sladek will enter next season as a veteran of multiple state tournaments ready to lead a group he has a lot of belief in.

Alexandria's Ashton Sladek watches a long putt roll in on his 10th hole during the Class AAA state tournament at the Bunker Hills Golf Club on June 16, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

“I think the future is bright, and expectations should be high,” Sladek said. “I think we’re going to look for a state championship in the next couple years with this group that we have. Offseason grind is going to be important, getting better in the offseason.”

This was Alexandria’s 20th trip to state, and that doesn’t happen without a deep talent pool to choose from. Swedberg said the Cardinals have a few seniors who will vie for top-six spots next spring and more young players coming through the system.

It’s never easy winning at this Class AAA state tournament. The Cardinals saw that firsthand this week, but Alexandria is not shying away from lofty goals in the near future.


“The expectations come. That’s just the way it is, and I think these guys are ready,” Swedberg said. “They’re competitors, and that’s what they’re playing high school golf for. They’re playing to come here every year and try to win a state title...It’s going to be a fight (for positions in the lineup), but the goal is always the same. We’ve got the talent, and these guys work so hard. Every year we’re trying to win a conference title, a section title and we want to win state titles.”


TWO-DAY TEAM SCORES -- Maple Grove - 584; Edina - 600; Eastview - 607; Farmington - 609; Alexandria - 613; Chaska - 615; Mahtomedi - 632; Duluth East - 670

TOP-FIVE INDIVIDUAL SCORES - Nate Stevens, Northfield -- 134; Ian Meyer -- 136; Arthur Ylitalo, Buffalo -- 137; Mason Roloff, Spring Lake Park -- 140; Joe Kortan, Moorhead -- 140; Josh Galvin, Maple Grove -- 140

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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