The Northwest Suburban Conference boys golf season came to a conclusion May 23 at a sun-soaked Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids.
It was the sixth and final regular season stop on the conference tour, and it provided yet another example of the parity that existed in a wide-open field of individuals.
Champlin Park ninth-grader Anson Kuznick claimed medalist honors with a 2-under-par 69 that included a sizzling start to a back-nine that began with birdies on four of the first five holes for the Rebel freshmen.
The victory allowed Kuznick to become the youngest winner this year in NWSC boys golf, and it continued a pattern in which each of the six outings produced a different victor.
“I’ve played with a lot of the guys that have won this year, and everybody is playing pretty well,” said Kuznick. “I think that has a lot to do with it. Everyone is pretty even.”
No one was close to Kuznick Thursday, especially after he followed a double-bogey on the ninth hole by opening the back side with birdies on 10, 11, 13 and 14 to go with a par on 12.
His 69 was the lowest round turned in during the conference season this spring, and it came after a warm-up session on the driving range that was anything but spectacular.
“I wasn’t hitting them too well on the range at all, and I didn’t expect to play very well today,” he said. “But I didn’t think too much out there, and I made a lot of putts.”
Kuznik’s surge lifted him all the way to eighth in the overall individual conference standings.
Maple Grove’s Jackson Lanou, who won the NWSC tournament at Loggers Trail two weeks ago, was the conference champion.
Robbinsdale Armstrong senior Cole Soffa finished second overall after attempting to make a run at Lanou with a 74 Thursday.
“I knew he was one ahead of me at the turn,” said Soffa. “Obviously that creeps into your mind, so I was trying to be a little more aggressive knowing I was one or two back from him.”
Other area golfers to earn all-conference honors by placing in the top-20 included Park Center junior Andrew Chan (10th), Armstrong junior Ryan Maiers (12th), Champlin Park senior Luke Johnson (13th) and Osseo junior Dayton Federley (14th).
Maple Grove ended up as the team champion after winning the final event with a 307 that clinched the Crimson’s regular season championship.
Blaine, which finished sixth Thursday, ended up second in the conference and Armstrong was third after placing fifth at Bunker Hills.
Champlin Park ended up tied for second with Andover in the final regular season tournament with a 319 that reaffirmed the Rebels resurgence.
“The whole team has been playing well, and that has given us some confidence,” said Kuznick. “We are proud of our finish.”
Most of those teams will return to Bunker Hills at 7 a.m. Thursday, May 30 for the Class 3A, Section 5 tournament, which will include NWSC schools Maple Grove, Blaine, Champlin Park, Anoka, Osseo, Centennial, Coon Rapids and Park Center.
Andover and Elk River will play in the Section 7 tournament May 27 and 30 in Hinkley, and Armstrong heads to a loaded Section 6 tournament May 29 and 30 at the Ridges of Sand Creek in Jordan.
“We know what we are up against, so there is really no pressure,” said Armstrong head coach Murray Ginther, who will take his team into a field that includes both five-time state champion Wayzata and 2012 state runner-up Minnetonka.
“We want to make it to the second day, and I think that is realistic. It is tough to even get individuals out of there. Our odds of winning as a team are astronomical, but if you can pull an individual or two out, that speaks tons coming out of that section.”
Contact Nick Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org