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Golf: Alexandria boys place third at Class AAA State Tournament

Alexandria boys end season strong with a solid performance at Bunker Hills.

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(From left to right) Bennett Olsen, Braeden Sladek, Jack Holtz, Andrew Swedberg, Ashton Sladek, Carver Larson and head coach Brady Swedberg hold up a third place plaque that they won at the 2022 MSHSL Class AAA State Tournament on June 15, 2022, in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press
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COON RAPIDS - The Alexandria boys golf team played through some wet course conditions on day two of the 2022 MSHSL Class AAA State Tournament at Bunker Hills Golf Club to finish off the season in third place with a two-day total of 612 (304, 308).

“We’ve got a young team and we’re glad to finish third,” Alexandria head coach Brady Swedberg said. “We wanted more but we’ll work on it and we have the motivation to keep on going.”

This top-three finish is the seventh in program history.

Edina won the tournament with a two-day score of 589 and Spring Lake Park finished second with a score of 603.

To finish in the top three, Alexandria had to fend off Chanhassen, Lakeville North and Eastview, which all finished within seven strokes of third place.

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“Coming down the stretch, we had a shot at climbing to second but we also had teams at fourth and fifth that were right behind us too,” Swedberg said. “So to hold on and finish third was great.”

Swedberg said it took mental toughness to finish in the top three on Wednesday.

“We had the rain, we had the wet conditions, and so who's gonna be the toughest mentally?” Swedberg said. “They stepped up, they played well coming down the stretch and they knew every shot mattered. It was just great to finish strong and finish third.”

With the unpredictable weather and unpredictable course conditions throughout the season, Swedberg said his team has shown mental toughness the whole season.

“With the conditions we've had this spring, you really have no choice,” Swedberg said. “If you want to be a great golf team, you have to be mentally tough. Golf is already tough enough the way it is…What it comes down to is just committing to every golf shot and controlling your emotions. That’s really what mental toughness is.”

In last season’s tournament, the Cardinals finished fifth with a score of 613.

In the eyes of the players, they believe that they’ve cut down on their mistakes and that’s where they have grown the most throughout the season.

“At the start of the year, we all pretty much made a lot of mistakes not thinking, and we weren't committed to a lot of our golf shots,” junior Braeden Sladek said. “Our coach Brady Swedberg was able to really help us through that. We improved a lot throughout the season.”

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Sophomore Bennett Olsen said the team’s work ethic is what got them there.

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Alexandria sophomore Bennett Olsen watches his tee shot go down the fairway at the No. 9 hole at Bunker Hills on June 15, 2022. Olsen finished tied for 10th at the Class AAA State Tournament and helped Alexandria finish third as a team.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

“Inside and outside of practice we're all working hard, regardless of it’s 10 in the morning and 10 at night,” Olsen said. “We're usually playing seven days a week till dark regardless of when practice is and when it's not. And we all play together. We all get along. I think we all knew each other before the season really well. Our bond is like a friendship and as brothers we kind of just got better. We're tight.”

Olsen finished with the lowest two-day score amongst the Cardinals, 147 (71, 76).

“I finally started hitting the ball well again,” Olsen said. “I was hitting it really well but my driver maybe got a little squirrely on me a couple of times.”

Olsen finished tied for 10th in the tournament.

“Bennett played great, this was a huge step for him,” Swedberg said. “He was kind of on the cusp of really taking it to the next level. I think that it was huge for him to play well, compete and finish top 10. That's going to be huge for him and should keep him motivated and boost his confidence for sure.”

Nate Stevens (Northfield), Owen Rexing (Rosemount) and Jack Wetzel (Edina) tied for first with a score of four under par.

Alexandria sophomore Jack Holtz finished with a score of 161 (80, 81) for the tournament.

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Sladek finished six-over par in the two days (150 total). He had the second-best Cardinals’ score.

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Alexandria junior Braeden Sladek watches his putt go near the No. 5 hole at Bunker Hills Golf Club on June 15, 2022. Sladek helped Alexandria finished third as a team at the Class AAA State Tournament.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

“I started off pretty rough,” Sladek said about his Wednesday round of 5-over 77. “I was three over through seven holes. I think Tuesday I started off really rough too. I made birdie on eight (Wednesday) and then kind of got back in the groove. I capitalized on my birdie opportunities, which was nice. It was a great atmosphere and met some new people.”

The Cardinals had two freshmen getting their second experience at the state tournament in Carver Larson and Ashton Sladek. Larson finished at 154 (76, 78) while Ashton Sladek had a 169 (82, 87).

Andrew Swedberg, the Cardinals’ lone senior at the tournament, scored a 163 (81, 82).

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Alexandria senior Andrew Swedberg watches as his tee shot on hole No. 2 at Bunker Hills Golf Club goes down the fairway on June 15, 2022. Alexandria placed third as a team at the Class AAA State Tournament.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

“It’s extra special being his uncle,” Brady Swedberg said about seeing his nephew play at the state tournament. “I’m happy for Drew to finish it off here at Bunker at the state tournament. To finish there is pretty special.”

The Cardinals are happy with how the 2022 season wrapped up and eager to see what this nucleus can do again next spring.

“That’s what the expectation is,” Brady Swedberg said about learning from this tournament. “We got five guys coming back for next year and we got a few younger ones coming up. It’s motivation. We got a taste of what some greatness looks like, but we also got beat up a little bit. That’s a combination that can really do nothing but motivate you. These guys are already motivated and they're working. They're already talking about next year, so they're motivated. They'll work really hard this offseason, and they'll be ready to go.”

CLASS AAA BOYS TEAM SCORES - 1. Edina, 589; 2. Spring Lake Park, 603; 3. Alexandria, 612; 4. Chanhassen, 616; T5. Lakeville North, 619; T5. Eastview, 619; 7. Stillwater Area, 626; 8. Princeton, 653.

ALEXANDRIA RESULTS - T10. Bennett Olsen - 147 (71, 76); T19. Braden Sladek - 150 (77, 73); T34. Carver Larson - 154 (76, 78); T55. Jack Holtz - 161 (80, 81); T64. Andrew Swedberg - 163 (81, 82); T84. Ashton Sladek - 169 (87, 82)

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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