The Valley City High School golf team is no stranger to state, but this year, a few Hi-Liners took a different route getting there.
Rather than qualify with the rest of the team, senior Nick Jensen and Ben Sorenson and freshman Jared Lentz all qualified individually during a meet last week in Wahpeton.
“We’ve never really done that before,” coach Buff Murray said. “It’s something that’s new.”
But an individual sport, the Hi-Liners are keeping the focus solely on team entering today’s Eastern Dakota Conference regional tournament at the Edgewood Public Golf Course in Fargo.
Murray said the Hi-Liners, who took fifth in state last year, are hoping to finish in the top six at the regional to ensure their trip to state.
It’s a goal he figures the team should have little trouble accomplishing.
“In the last three weeks or so, we’ve put things together really well,” Murray said.
It’s a three week span that included a sixth-place finish at the East/West Classic, which includes all the Class A golf teams, and two top-four finishes at Eastern Dakota Conference meets.
Murray credits part of the success to good weather, but said the team has just found its stride late in the year.
Jensen leads the team with a scoring average of just over 77, which has him in the top-10 in the EDC. Roughly two strokes behind him is future-VCSU Viking Sorenson, and within a club’s reach is Lentz.
All three shot within the seven-over-par range last week to qualify for state. Tyler Steven missed the early state cut by a stroke at the same tournament. Dustin Miller and Michael Pederson rounded out the top six.
As a team, the Hi-Liners finished fourth last week in Wahpeton, missing the top 3 on a tie-breaker.
Murray said the atmosphere of the regional tournament is slightly different, but he expects his team to play well.
“It’s a little more pressure because you can play all year and be solid, but if a couple of kids have a bad day we could be in trouble,” he said. “If the kids play like they can, we’ll be in good shape. We don’t have to do anything extraordinary.”