Scottsbluff returns as state golf champs
     2015-06-04      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
Photos by Jane White/for the Citizen - Scottsbluff junior Jonah Wright concentrates his putt on the ninth hole Wednesday during the first round of the Class B Nebraska State High School Boys Golf Championships at Riverside Golf Course in Grand Island. Wright tied for ninth place with a score of 157. 
Make that two Class B state golf championships in a row for Scottsbluff High School as the boys’ team brought home the trophy, just as the girls’ team did last fall.
Teams from across the state were at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island last Wednesday and Thursday for their last two rounds of the school year. Scottsbluff, who was coming off wins in their last seven tournaments, carded a two-day total of 636 for the biggest win of the season. Beatrice was four strokes back at 640 and Blair was in third with 646.

“We had perfect weather the first day and the course was awesome,” said Scottsbluff Coach Mike Klein. “It got a little breezy the second day and they moved the tee times up and hour because of the threat of bad weather.”
Scottsbluff senior Koy Potoff, playing in his fourth state tournament, was awarded an individual medal for a two-day score of 149, which tied him for third place. It was the second state medal of his high school career. He plans to continue his golf career next season at Creighton University.

Teammate Jonah Wright, a junior, also medaled while playing in his third state tournament. He finished with a 157 score for a ninth place tie.
Junior Jared Pilkington really came alive in the second round at state. After shooting an 84 on Wednesday, he lowered that by five strokes Thursday and carded a 79. His two-day total of 163 placed him in a tie for 18th.

Bearcat Baily Hort, a transfer from Gering for his senior year, carded a two-day total of 169 and tied for 29th place. And senior Sean Mercer-Smith, who played tennis in the fall, tied for 43rd with a 174.
Klein said the team was shooting about average after the first day as the Bearcats held a five-stroke lead over Beatrice after the first round. “That’s what we wanted in case the weather got bad the second day.”

After a shaky start on Thursday, the team stepped up on the back nine to bring home the championship trophy.

Klein, a Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame member, coaches both Scottsbluff boys’ and girls’ golf teams. And he’s had a lot of success with his squads. This year was his 11th state championship. For the Scottsbluff boys, two state championships came under his guidance. Prior to that, he posted two state championships for Mitchell. And he guided the girls’ squad to seven state championships, including the last two in a row.

“This was a cool season because of the kids,” Klein said. “They have a lot of fun and got a lot out of their games and stepped up when they had to.”
Klein pointed out something that’s never happened before at Scottsbluff during this past school year. Both the boys and girls golf teams won titles in the Western Conference, Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference, district meet and state championship.

Gering’s goal from the start of the season was to make it to the state championship tournament as a team. The team accomplished that goal with a third place finish at the Class B district tournament on May 18. It was their first appearance at state in four years.
“It was a good experience to get to state and it’s a big tournament for the guys,” said Gering Coach Keaton Green. “We only graduate two seniors so we plan on being back next year.”
The Bulldogs shot a 369 the first day of the tournament, but lowered that score to 363 on Thursday. With an overall team score of 732, they finished in 12th place.
Gering’s top three individuals all finished in ties: Grant Maser with a 175 for 45th place, Alex Lupher a stroke back at 176 for 48th and Kraiger Ebbers with a 181 to finish in 59th. Mason Marsh carded a 200 total to finish in 76th and Logan VanAnne was in 78th with a 214 total.

“Grant Maser struggled a bit on the first day, but came back and fired a 39 on the back nine that afternoon,” Green said. “Like the rest of the team, he was battling through the course and staying focused. Grand Island is a challenging course with lots of trees. You have to hit it straight and a long way on some of the holes. It was encouraging to see the guys doing their best there.”

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