Class A: Norfolk’s Luke Kluver birdies final hole to become first three-time state champ
NORFOLK, Neb. — A record third Class A golf title put Norfolk’s Luke Kluver under stress like he said he hadn’t experienced.
His future college coach said he liked how Kluver handled himself while shooting a 2-over 74 Wednesday at Norfolk Country Club to win by a stroke over Jake Boor of team champion Omaha Creighton Prep.
“Today, I thought he managed his emotions really well,” Kansas coach Jamie Bermel said. “The pressure, playing on your home course, senior year, all that stuff. We’ve never talked about it, but we’re human beings and I’m sure he was feeling a lot of pressure.
“And the fact it was an 18-hole sprint. One bad shot, one bad break. But anytime you birdie the last hole to win, he’s a competitor.”
Kluver, who missed the career slam with a second-place finish as a sophomore, said besides the stress, it was “the biggest grind I ever had on the golf course.”
There have been four three-time champions in other classes — Kevin Slocum of Franklin (sand greens, 1973-75), Jeff Erwin, O’Neill (B, 1975-77), Jason Peterson of Oakland -Craig (C, 1987-89) and Trevor Kosch of Humphrey St. Francis (D, 2014, 2016-17).
In one stretch of the round — the threat of lightning shortened the Class A and B tournaments from 36 holes to 18 — Kluver bogeyed four consecutive holes on the front nine. Another bogey on the penultimate hole dropped the senior into a tie at 3-over with Lincoln Southwest’s Josh Bartels. Four holes before, those two were tied with Chris Rasmussen of Elkhorn South (77) and Metro Conference champion Grant Jabenis of Omaha Westside (79).
On the last hole of his prep career, a par-5 on his home course, of course the outcome was going to be a birdie. Kluver’s second shot left him with a chip that he played to 3 feet.
“The front nine is tough. With this wind, there are no easy holes. The back nine is where I knew I was going to score,” he said. “I just tried to stay with Josh and just keep grinding.
“I tell you what, he kept throwing punches and I took a lot of them.”
Reflecting on the title that got away, Kluver said it was a lot like this year: “I had five bogeys in a row then. I had four in a row today, but I’m more mature now and handled it better today than I did back then.”
Kluver said he appreciated his family’s support.
His father, Klay, is a former state high jump champion and all-state basketball player from Clay Center. His mother, the former Michelle Patterson, lettered four times in golf at Nebraska after a stellar Class D career in volleyball, basketball and track at Loomis.
Younger brother Jake, a junior who had been second to Luke in four of their previous five tournaments, was a top-15 finisher Wednesday.
Prep won its 10th team title and first since 2015, the year before Class A moved to Norfolk. The Junior Jays were in the clubhouse with a four-golfer score of 313, with nine-hole leader Southwest still on the course.
When Bartels played the 18th, besides being tied with Kluver, Southwest was a stroke behind Prep. Bartels played his third shot — from the first fairway — to about 25 feet and gunned the putt with Kluver’s birdie virtually certain. The Southwest senior missed the 8-foot comebacker to finish at 76.
Prep’s scores were Boor’s 75, Josh Kramer’s 77, Rex Soulliere’s 79 and 82s by Tanner Muhlecke and Thomas Slattery. Only Muhlecke is a senior. That fivesome had five birdies but four double bogeys.
“I said this throughout the year that these guys don’t have many ups and downs,” Prep coach Matt Rasgorshek said. “They’re pretty level. They don’t let much get to them. They’re one of the best teams I’ve ever coached in the sense that they pick each other up when they’re down and they’re rooting for each other. It’s awesome.”
Boor, a sophomore, parred his final seven holes.
“He’s such a grinder,” Rasgorshek said. “He has such a great attitude. He deserves that.”
Luke Kluver said it was disappointing that his final high school state tournament was turned into a one-day event, “but you have to deal with it.”
“I knew what my goal was today, to be a three-timer,” he continued, “and I really tried to play my game. As tough as it was, I thought I did all right.”
Team scoring: Omaha Creighton Prep 313, Lincoln Southwest 315, Norfolk 322, Lincoln Pius X 333, Kearney 334, Omaha Westside 334, Elkhorn South 336, Millard North, 336, Gretna 338, Papillion-La Vista South 339, Lincoln East 341, Papillion-La Vista 343
Luke Kluver, Norfolk 74
Jacob Boor, Creighton Prep 75
Josh Bartels, Lincoln Southwest 76
Josh Kramer, Creighton Prep 77
Isaac Heimes, Norfolk 77
Josh Peters, Millard North 77
Chris Rasmussen, Elkhorn South 77
Nolan Vondra, Papillion-La Vista 78
Tanner Rigg, Lincoln Southwest 78
Rex Soulliere, Creighton Prep 79
Rourke Jensen, Lincoln North Star 79
Jacob Hellman, Omaha Westside 79
Grant Jabenis, Omaha Westside 79
Class B: North Platte claims first team title in more than 60 years at Nebraska state golf
COLUMBUS, Neb. — Those sand greens trophies that have been displayed in North Platte’s trophy case for more than 60 years are getting a new grass neighbor.
The Bulldogs won the Class B championship Wednesday, finishing two strokes ahead of Adams Central on a blustery day at the Elks Country Club. North Platte’s top four players shot a combined 326 on the 6,600-yard course.
“It’s been awhile, so it’s a big deal in our town,” North Platte coach Jim Orcutt said. “This is very special. I knew it was going to be a pretty close race between a lot of different teams.
“We just knew we had to play well in order to come out on top, and they did it.”
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Elkhorn Mount Michael’s Luke Gutschewski was the individual champion. The sophomore, who shot 35-36 for a 1-under 71, was the only player in the state’s four classes to finish his round under par.
Gutschewski, the son of pro golfer Scott Gutschewski, had three birdies and two bogeys in his round. But what he was most proud of was not having any three putts.
“It was all putting, good putting,” Gutschewski said. “Everything else was kind of OK, but it was good putting that saved me.”
Omaha Skutt junior Charles Zielinski finished second with a 73.
This was the first weather-shortened Class B final since McCook won a one-day event in 2011. Tuesday’s first round was canceled because of the threat of lightning before all players would have completed their rounds.
The Bulldogs were the only team with two players who shot under 80. Junior Jayden Jones shot a 78 that included a 38 on the back nine to finish fifth, while sophomore Kasch Morrison checked in with a 79 for sixth place.
“It was really good that Jaden Jones came back and medaled again this year and kept the ball on the golf course,” Orcutt said. “Sometimes he can be a little wild. That was a key. All the guys just never give up.”
Junior Tanner Ruda also medaled with his 83, finishing in a four-way tie for 12th. Senior Andrew Phillips was North Platte’s No. 4 scorer with an 86 and junior Finn Lucas finished with a 91.
“I think the best thing we did was trying to stay in the moment as much as we could, not let the wind beat us down too much,” Orcutt said. “The bunch of kids worked really hard in the offseason.”
Orcutt has been North Platte’s coach for 35 years. He found out the Bulldogs won the team title when his daughter called to let him know the results were posted online.
Getting that information before the awards ceremony allowed Orcutt to process some of the emotions before he presented the individual medals to his players.
“I couldn’t speak for a while,” Orcutt said. “It feels great. I had a little experience going through that with the girls as runner-up in Class A last fall, so at least we knew the procedure. This was very special.”
Of all the putts Gutschewski made Wednesday, he said the biggest was one of his last.
“I made a really, really nice par save with a 15-footer on 17,” Gutschewski said. “That kept me in the lead, so that really helped. That one felt big.”
Mount Michael coach Kent Christenson said he and Gutschewski purposely didn’t keep an eye on how other players were doing. Gutschewski’s threesome was four or five groups behind the final trio.
“We knew it was going to be a tough day,” Christenson said. “I told him we don’t want to know what the other players are doing. Just go out and play your game.
“That’s what he did, and he had some nice up-and-downs and played a solid round of golf today in tough conditions.”
Team scoring: North Platte 326, Adams Central 328, Grand Island Northwest 337, York 339, Omaha Skutt 340, Wahoo Neumann 341, Beatrice 351, Bennington 351, Cozad 355, Norris 363, McCook 369, Platteview 398
Luke Gutschewski, Mount Michael 71
Charles Zielinski, Omaha Skutt 73
Bryce VunCannon, Columbus Scotus 75
Reed Malleck, York 76
Jayden Jones, North Platte 78
Kasch Morrison, North Platte 79
Nathan Sughroue, Adams Central 81
Nolan Sughroue, Adams Central 81
Marcus Eriksen, Grand Island NW 81
Tyler Welch, Seward 81
Class C: Eli Fox’s putt secures another title for Grand Island Central Catholic
KEARNEY, Neb. — Eli Fox lined up for a bogey putt on the 18th hole Tuesday. The Grand Island Central Catholic junior had no clue how important that putt was.
“I just wanted to make it,” Fox said.
Fox eyed the putt, stepped forward and tapped it. The ball hit the edge of the cup, rolled around and fell in.
“I barely made it,” Fox said.
As Fox walked off the green, coach Craig Rupp approached him.
“He came off the green and said, ‘You know you needed to make that for us to win by one,’ ” Rupp said.
No, Fox didn’t know. But that putt gave GICC its second straight Class C state title and fourth in five years. The Crusaders finished the day with a 324 at Meadowlark Hills Golf Course. Battle Creek was second at 325.
Rupp and all the other GICC players and fans around the 18th green knew the situation. Fox needed a bogey for the Crusaders to win. A double bogey and there would have been a team playoff.
Fox finished tied for second with Hartington Cedar Catholic’s Riley Kuehn with a 76. Cambridge senior Preston Carbaugh fired a 74 to take the individual title.
GICC’s Jack Goering tied for fifth with a 77 after a double bogey on the 18th.
It was Goering and Fox again leading the Crusaders, like they have all season.
“They stepped up today again,” Rupp said. “They just really took the team on their shoulders, but take nothing away from the other three guys. They’ve played really well.”
It was the third state title for Goering, who will play basketball at Hastings College next season. Goering was on the state championship team as a freshman in 2016, then missed his sophomore season with a back injury.
Team scoring: Grand Island Central Catholic 324, Battle Creek 325, Oakland-Craig 349, Lincoln Christian 354, Johnson County 363, Kearney Catholic 367, Kimball 368, David City 372, BRLD 375, Hartington Cedar Catholic 376, Lincoln Lutheran 377, Yutan 378, Doniphan-Trumbull 384, Valentine 401, Perkins County 409
Preston Carbaugh, Cambridge 74
Riley Kuehn, Hartington CC 76
Eli Fox, Grand Island CC 76
Ian Lundquist, Oakland-Craig 76
Jake Hagerbaumer, Logan View 77
Jack Goering, Grand Island CC 77
Luke Stueve, Battle Creek 79
Ty Heimes, Battle Creek 80
Will Elgert, Yutan 81
Griffin Hendricks, Doniphan-Trumbull 81
Class D: Paxton’s Jeremy McMillan-Peters, West Holt claim state titles
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — Paxton’s Jeremy McMillan-Peters claimed the individual title and West Holt the team title at the Class D state golf championship at Lake Maloney Golf Club on Wednesday.
McMillan-Peters cashed in on a strong offseason to improve upon last year’s fifth-place finish as he dethroned defending champ Ryan Weiss of Franklin by two strokes.
McMillan-Peters carded a 75 — that was 10 strokes better than what he finished with the past two seasons at state.
“I feel honored to be able to do it again,” McMillan-Peters said of playing at state. “Third year in a row, and I look forward to more of it. I hope I made and continue to make everybody proud back in Paxton.”
West Holt edged North Platte St. Patrick’s 355-356 to win its third straight crown.
West Holt had two individuals in the top 10 as Austin Wenner (81) tied for third and Garrison Hansen (83) tied for seventh.
After not qualifying a single golfer for state last season, St. Pat’s landed on the podium with a runner-up finish.
“It shows how much time they’ve put in over the summer and in the spring,” St. Pat’s coach Brendan Lynes said. “We didn’t have the best weather to start the spring, but they always found a way to hit as many balls and putt as much as they could. They had this goal in mind all year, and it’s exciting to see their work pay off.”
Freshman Teegan Sonneman led the Irish by carding an 84.
Team scoring: West Holt 355, North Platte St. Patrick’s 356, Creighton 370, Elm Creek 370, Franklin 372, Fullerton 381, Mullen 383, Alma 386, Heartland 392, Boyd County 394, Burwell 394, Fremont Bergan 398, Hitchcock County 415, Bertrand 429, Exeter-Milligan 436
Jeremy McMillan-Peters, Paxton 75
Ryan Weiss, Franklin 77
Austin Wenner, West Holt 81
Chase Ostransky, Fullerton 81
Gage Clifton, Clearwater-Orchard 82
Koby Walker, Mullen 82
Garrison Hansen, West Holt 83
Jacob Lingenfelter, Plainview 83
Jordan McBride, Burwell 84
Teegan Sonneman, North Platte SP 84