Hornet boys capture state golf championship

Junior Joe Karos of the Edina High boys golf team likes what he sees on this shot during the State Class AAA Tournament at Bunker Hills. He tied for 25th place as the Hornets won the championship. (Sun Staff Photo by John Sherman)

There is a good case for calling Edina “The Golf Capitol of Minnesota” this week.

June 12 at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids, the Hornet boys won the State Class AAA Tournament and the Hornet girls took second place.

Boys coach Phil Ebner wasn’t surprised to see his team win, but at the same time the result was an upset.

“We had competed against Waconia three times before the state tournament, and the closest we came to them was five strokes,” Ebner said after watching his team win the biggest prize of all. With rounds of 297 and 298, Edina outscored Waconia by two strokes over two days. St. Thomas Academy, which took the lead by shooting 292 the first day of tournament play, finished in third place.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our kids,” Ebner said. “They are great people, and it is my privilege to coach them.”

On the trip to the Coon Rapids course, Ebner told the Edina players that the pressure was not on them, but on St. Thomas Academy.

“Nobody expected us to win the title,” the Edina coach said. “What I asked the kids was: Why not us? Why not now?”

The players’ response answered both questions.

Two Hornets finished in the top 10 and four were among the top 25 at state, but the contribution didn’t end there. The Hornets’ fifth man, Sam Sipprell, shot a counting score the first day with a 74, which was among his best rounds this spring.

Senior Carl Berghult, who was also on Edina’s state-champion Alpine skiing team this winter, led Hornet scorers with matching rounds of 73 for a 146 total, which put him in fifth place. Junior John Tucker was a stroke behind, tying for seventh place with 74-73-146. Next for the winners, tied for 25th place, were junior Joe Karos (76-77-153) and senior Matt McGuire (78-75-153). Sipprell, another senior, added an 83 to his first-day 74 to finish in a 39th-place tie with 157. Senior Walker Schwappach rounded out Edina’s lineup with matching 81s for a 162 total and a tie for 63rd place.

“Waconia was the best team in the state the whole year,” Ebner said. “But I felt all along that we have the deepest team in the state. Golf is such and up-and-down sport, and one of the things we try to do is stay calm.”

Down five strokes after the first round, Edina didn’t have to make those strokes up on just one or two holes or even the first nine. They had a whole day to right the ship.

Consistency among the top four was the staple of the championship effort. Any time a team has three scores in the 73-77 range, that’s a great day on any championship course.

Ebner observed that conditions were less than ideal the second day, and that made the 73s from Berghult and Tucker all the more impressive.

“I like it when a course is hard,” Ebner said. “Today was harder with a north wind at Bunker Hills.”

State Golf

Team Totals

Edina 595, Waconia 597, St. Thomas Academy 602, Alexandria 611, Elk River 618, Lakeville South 619, Maple Grove 620, Stillwater 621.

10 Individual

Scoring Leaders

1. Brock Winter of Stillwater 143, 2. Trey Fessler of St. Michael-Albertville 144, 3. Logan Hamak of Sartell-St. Stephen 145, 3. John Langlois of Lakeville South 145, 5. Connor Glynn of Waconia 46, 5. Carl Berghult of Edina 146, 7. John Tucker of Edina 147, 7. Muzzy Donohue of St. Thomas Academy 147, 9. Nate Stephens of Northfield 148, 9. John Fischer of Waconia 148.

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