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Golfers struggle down stretch at D1 sectional

Senior Ben Lewis watches his putt roll towards the hole at the WIAA sectional tournament last Wednesday in Marshfield. Lewis led the Raiders with a score of 81 but lost a one-hole playoff for the third and final individual state qualifying spot. Submitted photo

The Raider boys' golf team traveled to Marshfield for the eight-team WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament last Wednesday, but came up short in its bid for a second straight trip to state, finishing fifth with a team score of 341.

Superior continued its postseason winning streak by shooting a 331 to take first while River Falls finished second at 337. Both teams advanced to this week's state tournament in Madison. Eau Claire Memorial was third with 338 and D.C. Everest finished fourth with 339.

Hudson head coach Bill Schaub said the Raiders, particularly Brody Belland and Ben Lewis, played well early in the cool, windy conditions. David Kein and Pat Bowers struggled early, but continued to battle through the front nine. After all teams had completed nine holes, Hudson was tied for second at 165 with Eau Claire Memorial surprising everyone by holding the lead.

"We did not play our best on the front side, but were in good shape," Schaub said. "As we played through the first few holes on the back nine the team was maintaining its solid play."

Schaub said Kein started hitting the ball well, and Jordan DeLao, Lewis and Belland were putting together pars and bogies while Bowers was still having difficulty with his iron approach shots.

"Belland found trouble on the 11th in the trees and came out with a big number," Schaub said. "He showed his senior experience and played the next several holes very well. Lewis continued to play well through the difficult 11 through 13th holes. Unfortunately, the wheels began to fall off for Kein and Bowers around the 15th hole. The wind continued to really blow and the boys struggled to the finish."

Kein finished with a season high 94 and Bowers uncharacteristically went up to 95.

"That is not the type of play Pat is used to," Schaub said. "Pat and David played well all year so it was difficult to see them struggle."

Lewis had a triple bogey on the 16th hole but parred the last two holes to come in with a team-low score of 81, tied for the third and final individual qualifying spot for state. He and Nate Lewis of Eau Claire Memorial squared off in a playoff to see who would move on and Webb won on the first playoff hole.

"Ben missed a short putt to miss his chance at state this year," Schaub said. "It was a very disappointing end to his high school career.

DeLao and Belland both finished at 83 to round out the Raider scoring.

Schaub said the Raiders worked hard to prepare for the sectional, and had a good plan for the day, unfortunately they struggled down the stretch and it cost them.

"On holes 15 through 18 we had some very big numbers that you can't have and win a tournament," Schaub said. "The boys were very disappointed on how the day ended both as a team and individually. We all felt we had the ability to do better today."

Despite the disappointing end, Schaub said the season provided plenty of fun for both him and his players.

"We had a great group of student athletes this year," he said. "All five of these players are seniors and I will miss having them around next year."