Boys golf: Alexandria's depth and strong youth shows in home meet
Alexandria had a handful of top 10 finishes on Tuesday at Alexandria Golf Club.
ALEXANDRIA - The Alexandria boys golf team had its only home meet on Tuesday and saw some young players make some strides.
Alexandria had six players for ninth or better and took second place in an invitational at Alexandria Golf Club with 296 strokes.
"296 is a solid score; it's about what our season scoring average is," Alexandria head coach Brady Swedberg said. "Being one of our home courses, we didn't shoot as low as we'd like to, but it's still solid."
Alexandria, who came into Tuesday's meet coming off a win at the pre-section 8AAA meet on May 12, 2023 , had more tied for ninth finishes or better than any of the seven other teams in the field on Tuesday.
But led by an individual win by Sartell junior Lance Hamak, who posted a round of 7-under par (65), Sartell beat out Alexandria for the team win by two strokes (294).
"Sometimes you just get beaten, and that's what happened here," Swedberg said.
8th-grader Will Thornburg had a big day on the course as he posted a round of even par (72) and took third place.
"I was confident off the tee," Thornburg said. "I would say some of my strengths are my driving ability off the tee and putting. I'm trying to improve with my wedges, chipping, and long irons."
Thornburg posted four birdies and 10 pars in his round.
Thornburg played individually on Tuesday, so his score didn't count toward Alexandria's team score.
Nonetheless, he's among the many young pieces the program is excited about.
"It's crazy how good these kids get at such a young age," Swedberg said. "It's exciting for this year and the program's future. There are fifth and sixth-graders looking up to these guys, and in our junior programs at AGC and Geneva, we've got tons of kids. That's why our program is good; it's because of our junior programs."
Finishing just behind Thornburg was a pair of Alexandria Cardinals, sophomore Carver Larson, and senior Braeden Sladek.
Larson, who finished runner-up in the Junior 13-15 division of the 2022 Resorters Tournament, and Sladek, who won the Men's Resorters title in 2021, posted rounds of 73 on Tuesday. Larson also earned four birdies and 10 pars, and Sladek posted four birdies and nine pars.
Sladek and Larson are two big returning pieces from last year's team that took third place in Class AAA.
Juniors Gabe Weller and Jack Holtz, along with 8th-grader Weston Nyberg, earned top 10 finishes as well on Tuesday.
Holtz has been atop or near the top of the leaderboard in many different meets this season for Alexandria.
"There's not a weakness in his game," Swedberg said. "He hits it great off the tee and his wedges well too. He only had one birdie, and he was just a touch off, but he has been solid all year. The best part of Jack's game is his demeanor. He doesn't get too high and doesn't get too low. He just stays calm out there, and just kind of trusts trust himself."
Weller placed seventh with a round of 74 (one eagle, two birdies, and 10 pars), while Nyberg and Holtz tied for ninth with rounds of 76. Nyberg had one birdie and 12 pars, and so did Holtz.
"We've got a lot of young players and some upperclassmen that are fighting for that last spot, and that's kind of what we've always prided our program, having that depth," Swedberg said. "Having that fifth and sixth player count goes a long way."
Rounding out the Alexandria scores that counted towards the team total, junior Bennett Olsen tied for 31st with a round of 82 (10 pars).
Competing as individuals, freshman Sam Horstman posted a round of 78 (two birdies and nine pars) to tie for 19th, while junior Bralyn Steffensmeier placed 36th with a round of 84 (one birdie and eight pars), 8th-grade Blake Scholl tied for 40th with a round of 87 (six pars), junior Ryan Hovde tied for 43rd with a round of 88 (two birdies and four pars), freshman Landon Stennes tied for 50th with a round of 89 (three pars) and freshman Caelan Amborn placed 60th with a round of 106 (one par).
Sladek, who will play college golf at Kansas University starting next fall, said that this opening stretch has challenged them but that they're learning from it.
"It's been a grind all year," Sladek said. "It's all come so quickly. First, playing at Windsong Farms, then Dacotah Ridge, Troy Burne, and some of the top courses in Minnesota, all jammed into a quick season. Here I put some good shots together, and I would've liked to shoot lower, but I had a fine number."
Tuesday's meet in Alexandria served as a preview for the big meets Alexandria has coming up.
Alexandria plays at Rich Spring Golf Course in Cold Spring at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 22, 2023, for day one of the Central Lakes Championship, and day two is set to be played at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, at 9 a.m. at Pebble Lake Golf Course in Fergus Falls.
"We need to all play better, play more committed and put some scores together," Sladek said. "I think we all know we have more potential than this, and we have so much depth. I think anybody can prove it to themselves and go shoot a low round."
Alexandria, who won the Section 8AAA title last season, then heads back to Rich Spring Golf Course for the Section 8AAA Championship on May 30-31, 2023.
"We've got some work to do, but we're in a good spot," Swedberg said. "Getting beat two of our last three conference meets by Wilmer and Sartell, that's the motivation for these guys. They don't like to lose, especially in conference. They're motivated to keep working, and we got to get a few guys on track. They're confident. We will do what we can to prepare ourselves and peak at the right time. We're going to be ready for the conference championship, and we're going to be ready to hunt down the section title."
TEAM SCORES - 1. Sartell, 294; 2. Alexandria, 296; 3. Fergus Falls, 304; 4. Brainerd, 305; 5. Willmar, 308; 6. Sauk Rapids-Rice, 326; 7. St. Cloud Crush, 362; 8. Rocori, 367