GF golfers dominate own invite
Maybe the low scores were the result of home-course advantage. Maybe it's just that Grand Forks golfers are that good.
For whatever the reason, Grand Forks Red River and Central dominated Wednesday in the season-opening Eastern Dakota Conference boys high school golf meet.
Red River won its own invitational meet at King's Walk Golf Course with a 295 score. Central finished second with a 302, twelve strokes ahead of third-place West Fargo.
Of the 11 golfers who shot better than a 78 score, nine were Grand Forks golfers. Grand Forks coaches see that as a combination of home course and skill level.
"The Grand Forks programs have been growing,'' Central coach Josh Cichy said. "Red River has won the last two state championships. Our program has been getting better and better.
"And it does help playing here. The local knowledge is an advantage. The kids have played these holes hundreds of times. They're comfortable out here.''
The scores indicated that comfort zone.
Red River senior Seth Badolato earned the first medalist honors of his career, shooting a 1-under-par 71. Teammates Zach Hinschberger (73, tied for second), Jack Lindgren (75, fifth), Saylor Kuenzel (76, tied for sixth) and Koby Kuenzel (77, tied for ninth) joined Badolato in the top 10.
Brandon McGarry paced Central with a 73 to tie for second. Other Knights in the top 10 were Brady McGarry (76, tied for sixth), Carson Seng (76, tied for sixth) and Cole Hanson (77, tied for ninth). Jack Bryan just missed the top 10 with a 78.
"This is definitely our most comfortable course,'' said first-year Red River head coach Nathan Olson. "These kids have played here a lot. They have a plan for every hole.
"But I think Grand Forks' golfers will do very well on other courses. Central will win a lot of meets. I think we'll win some more meets. We graduated our top two guys from last year. But the kids have really improved. They put in a lot of time in their game in the offseason.''
Badolato is a prime example of that. The senior was the No. 3 golfer for Red River last season on a team that included state tournament medalist Adam Van Raden and state runner-up Mat Halvorson, both of whom were seniors. Badolato's consistent round Wednesday, which included pars on 15 holes, was two strokes better than his best round in the 2018 season.
"Adam and Mat were two pretty good sticks for us,'' Badolato said. "It's nice to move up. And I thought it would take an under-par score to win.
"Grand Forks golf is pretty good. It definitely helps playing here, knowing the greens and where to hit the ball. But I think we'll do pretty well on other courses.''