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Boys Golf: RF returning to state

River Falls boys' golf coach Josh Bazey figured a team score of 320 by the Wildcats at the Division 1 sectional in Stevens Point would be good enough to get them to state.

But 315 would be even better.

That's the score the Cats posted at the sectional Tuesday, May 29, after shooting their best 9-hole score of the season on the back nine at the Stevens Point Country Club to qualify for the WIAA State Tournament for the second year in a row.

“Going into sectionals we had the number 320 in mind,” Bazey said. “We thought that if we posted 320 or better that we would have a good chance of making it to state. (Eau Claire) Memorial is a great team, and we knew they would be tough to beat, but we knew we just needed to be top two to advance.”

The plan worked as the Cats finished second to the Old Abes' winning score of 296 and six strokes better than Stevens Point's 321. D.C. Everest was fourth with 329 followed by Wausau West with 333, Hudson with 338, Marshfield with 348 and Chippewa Falls with 364. The top two teams and the top three individuals who are not members of qualifying teams moved on to the state tournament June 4-5 at University Ridge in Madison.

Three of River Falls' top four players broke 80, led by Taylor Rotsaert with a 77, and in a three-way tie for eighth place. Jaxon Knotek tied for 11th with 78 and Maxamillian Xiong finished in a three-way tie for 13th place with 79. Max Morrow rounded out the Cat's team score with a 16th place score of 81 while Taylor Thompson came in with 82.

River Falls was in first place after three holes before sliding to fourth at the turn with a front-nine score of 167. But the Cat's put together their best 9-hole score of the year-- 148-- on the back to finish six strokes ahead of host Stevens Point.

“Taylor Rotsaert really came through on the back nine, shooting a 2-under-34,” Bazey said. “Maxamillian really responded well after finishing with three doubles on 7, 8 and 9 with a 1-under-35 on the back nine, and the others just played really consistent, making some key pars towards the end of the round.”

Hudson's Charley Chase finished four strokes away from the third and final individual qualifying spot with a team-low score of 79, while Bennett Swavely shot 82, Logan Funk had 87, Ben Pendleton scored 90 and Brandon Gilbert had 91.

Stevens' Point's Evan Thomas earned medalist honors with a round of 70 and will be joined at state by individual qualifiers Ben Peloquin of D.C. Everest and Russell Dettmering of Merrill, who both shot 75.

It's the second straight state tournament appearance for River Falls and the 16th in program history. After finishing 16th at the 2017 state tournament, Bazey said he's looking for a better outcome this time.

“The conference competition the Big Rivers provided all season long really had us prepared for a battle at sectionals,” he said. “Hopefully we can put up a good showing at University Ridge next week.”

Bob Burrows

Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.

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