Viking golfers looking strong

NB takes first at Refuge, Kress medals

The North Branch boys golf team traveled to Princeton yesterday and placed second of five with a team score of 323 at the Mississippi 8 Conference meet.

Cambridge-Isanti took first at 319.

Senior Joey Courtright was the low score on the day with a 77, which tied him for third place individually in a field of 30.

Senior John Buboltz posted an 80, while sophomore Nick Kress scored an 81. Junior Regan Nelson rounded out the varsity with a score of 85.

The Vikings also traveled to Refuge Golf Course for a conference meet last Tuesday, where they earned first place with a score of 319.

Kress was the medalist with a score of 73, followed by Buboltz at 81. Nelson earned a mark of 82, while Courtright shot for 83.

Head coach Ryan Minke said he is proud of the way his team has been playing this season, despite difficult weather conditions and changing from mostly nine-hole meets last year to 18 holes this season.

“We’ve played really well even with the schedule constantly changing,” Minke said. “Just as we’d be ready to play, we’d end up postponing, so with all of that going on, the guys have played consistent.”

The Vikings play the Links and North Fork at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 22, to determine the conference championship. Last year, North Branch took third in the North Suburban Conference. Minke thinks his guys have a shot at the title in their new conference.

“The conference championship is pretty wide open,” he said. “I think it’s between us, Cambridge-Isanti and Chisago Lakes. But Buffalo and Rogers can play well, too. Whoever has a good day on Thursday will end up winning the conference.”

As for the post season, sections prelims are set for Saturday, May 31, where Kress will be in the hunt for a return to state, while Buboltz aims for his first appearance after just missing the cut last season by one stroke.

In team play, Forest Lake is the section favorite as the No. 9 team in the state (Class AAA) with a team average of 314.5.

Minke said his boys will have to step up their game to take on the Rangers.

“We have to play smart — every stroke is going to count,” the head coach said. “If we don’t have the shot, we have to punch out and take the bogey. We have a hard time letting bad holes go, so if we have a bad shot, we have to forget and move on.”


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