Alex boys’ golf excited for chance to capture a CLC title

Momentum can be fleeting in sports, but the Alexandria boys’ golf team may have it heading into the biggest meet of the season to this point.

The Cardinals moved from third to a tie for first in the Central Lakes Conference standings with a first-place finish in Willmar earlier this week. They then put eight players in the 70s on Thursday as two Alexandria teams finished first and second in an abbreviated home invite at the Alexandria Golf Club by shooting team scores of 306 and 307.

That’s exactly where this team wants to be as it prepares for the final conference meet of the season at the Wapicada Golf Club in Sauk Rapids next Tuesday. The formula is simple for both Alexandria and St. Cloud Tech – win and the CLC title is their’s.

Lukas Bigger followed the flight of his ball onto the green after chipping on the third hole at AGC on Thursday. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

“If we can get four scores in the 70s, that would be the best,” Alexandria sophomore Lukas Bigger said after shooting a 74 on Thursday. “Keep it under about 310 as a team score, and we should probably take home the conference. [Tech] has three players that can shoot in the 70s more than half the time and more than likely will. So as long as we can get three or four guys in the 70s, we should be sitting pretty good.”

Bigger tied for medalist honors at AGC after shaving 10 putts off his round from the previous meet. Brady Bast shot a 75. Cole Haugen and Brandon Bistodeau each shot 76. Four others also reached the 70s as Brady Hafdal (77), Nick Brundell (78), Nic Hanson (78) and Kyle Blank (79) all added to what was a great day for Alexandria on its home course.

Now the Cardinals have to hope that St. Cloud Tech doesn’t have a similar result on its home course next Tuesday. The Tigers will host the final CLC meet at Wapicada knowing they have a better feel of the course over anyone in the field. That would seem to give them a bit of an advantage coming into the day.

Sophomore Cole Haugen followed his tee shot out at AGC on his way to shooting a 76 on Thursday morning. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

“That will be hard,” Haugen said. “But I think we have the team to do it. If everyone goes out and plays like they know they can, then I think we should be good. I feel like we can handle their course just as well as they can, but it’s definitely an advantage.”

The Cardinals feel they have the players to overcome that after knocking the rust off through the early portion of the season. Alexandria, like almost every program around the state, hardly got any practice time on a golf course before having to jump into meets.

The Cardinals didn’t get off to a fast start. They finished fifth in the first CLC meet of the season at Sartell. That put them behind the eight ball, but they have battled back and are starting to feel good about where their games are at.

Senior Nick Brundell watched his tee shot off the third box during the Alexandria Invite on Thursday. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

“It’s getting better every day,” Brundell, this team’s senior leader at the top of the lineup, said about his game after shooting a 78 on Thursday. “Today obviously wasn’t the best, but it’s getting there…you just have to practice more, practice harder and hopefully it all works out. It doesn’t feel like a normal golf season. Usually, we’re halfway through the season right now (with this number of meets). But now we have a week or two to get where we need to be.”

The Cardinals hope that’s enough time to finish with a flurry. A win next Tuesday would give them their second CLC title in the last three years after finishing second to Brainerd in 2012. That would mean a lot to this group and add to the momentum that this team seems to be building at the end of the regular season.

“That would definitely give us some confidence going into sections, knowing we beat all those other teams that we’ll be playing with,” Haugen said. “So obviously, we want to win conference to prove that we’re better than everyone else.”