MUSCATINE— Harold Dobernecker (sophomore, nevada) and Lucas Wendel (junior, Le Claire, Pleasant Valley HS) gained American Rivers all-conference recognition as the Central College men’s golf team snuck away with a second-place finish at the league tournament Friday.
Luther College, with three of the tourney’s top four finishers, surged after an uneven start to pull away with a 21-shot Victory for the crown at 315-295-292-902, taking the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Championships May 10-13 at Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.
The 54-hole tournament was squeezed into two 27-hole days due to challenging challenging weather conditions Saturday. Central, which started the day in third place, shot 306-309-308-923, nipping Nebraska Wesleyan University by a shot for second, as the Prairie Wolves finished at 308-302-314-924. The University of Dubuque was close behind at 309-307-312-928 with Loras College fifth at 308-316-308-932.
“Luther played terrific golf,” Coach Mel Blasi said. “We were only down four going into the last round but then they just took off.”
Dobernecker gained an all-conference Distinction for the second time after placing eighth as a freshman last year, shooting 75-80-74–229. Luther’s Ben Phipps shot 80-73-68–221 and tied teammate Jay Fjelstul, who shot 79-72-70–221 for medalist honors. Wendel, who tied for 15th last year, had 75-74-81—230.
“Harold and Lucas are the Captains of our team and it was good to see them both get all-conference,” Blasi said. “That’s always a nice accomplishment. I’m sure they were shooting for better but they each had their good moments.”
Drake Hamilton (freshman, Westlake, Texas, Keller HS) tied for 13th at 76-80-78-234, Jake Moffett (sophomore, Mount Pleasant) was 15th at 80-77-78-235 and Drew Rogers (freshman, Sullivan, Ill.) tied for 33rd at 87-81-78—246.
“Big numbers hurt us,” Blasi said. “You can’t win a tournament with bad holes like that. It’s so hard to recover from those.”
The Dutch endured harsh weather conditions throughout the spring but Blasi saw growth from his young Squad and noted that several players not in the varsity lineup made the trip to Muscatine on their own to support their teammates Friday.
“Harold and Lucas kind of established themselves but we used a lot of different combinations this year,” Blasi said. “This is a deep squad with a lot of potential. We’ve got everybody coming back but we could come back here with a completely different lineup next year. We’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
But Blasi also issued a challenge to his young team for the off-season.
“To win a conference championship, the work starts right away,” he said.