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Boys golf: Litchfield weathers field to win Invite

Josh Polingo of Litchfield is followed by Phillip Ward of Montevideo over the cart bridge spanning fast-flowing Hawk Creek between Swan and Willmar lakes on Saturday morning. Rain finally let up after players had completed about 12 of 18 holes at Eagle Creek on the second-day of the Willmar/Litchfield Invitational.

WILLMAR -- What would the Willmar/Litchfield Boys Golf Invitational be without weather?

Just another standardized test of club control and course management!

But throw in rain and cold and a little wind and it's also an exam on character and wardrobe.

Eagle Creek Golf Club was not a fun place to be Saturday morning. Rain fell softly but consistently over the first four hours before stopping to be replaced by a surge in wind speed.

But most all of the field of 16 teams gutted it out.

Litchfield came from 6 strokes back after Friday's good-weather round at the Litchfield Golf Club to emerge the winner by one stroke over first-day leader Owatonna.

Individually, Peter Jones hung on for medalist by one stroke over the Dragons' Josh Polingo.

"My rain clothes were so wet, I could barely hang on to my clubs," said Jones, only a freshman. "My hands were cold and wet, and I couldn't swing hard at all."

He finished with a double bogey on 18 but survived. He placed top 10 in this event as a seventh-grader helping the Huskies capture the team title.

Last year constant rains after a heavy snow melt left the two courses so saturated the invite was called off at mid-week.

Said Joey Dreier of New London-Spicer, the individual runner-up two years ago: "I really couldn't feel my fingers. Everything was tough today; when the rain stopped, the wind picked up coming off the lake."

Mike Waatja, Litchfield, junior filed the team's second best two-day scores. He said his putter saved him on many holes several times dropping long putts.

"You just had to grind it out and stick with it despite the conditions," he said. "You have to credit Josh for leading us to victory; he's our No. 1 man."

Several teams dropped after nine holes on Sunday citing players soaked to the bone with a conference tournament coming up on Monday.

"Well, that's spring golf," Willmar head coach Dave Ellwood was heard to say. "It's kind of disappointing ... but understandable."

Hunter Mottinger shot Willmar's best score on the Cardinals' home course tying teammate Cody Magnuson for the squad's two-day low.

"I stayed warm other than my hands," he said. "Out there you just try and stay positive and always have your head in the game. When I saw what it was like today, I figured (attitude) would give me any advantage over some players."

Litchfield's Zach Whitchurch saw it the same way. "In tough weather you have to stay focused," he said.

The Dragons knew they had a chance to win the invite coming in. In three Wright County Conference meets, the Dragons had finished first twice and second the other time.

(It's worth adding here that Whitchurch has the first hole-in-one of the season from courses that report to this newspaper. On March 27 at the Litchfield GC, he used a 4-iron during a practice round to ace No. 7 from 172 yards.)

Team scoring

Litchfield A 310-325-635, Owatonna 304-332-636, Willmar A 325-339-664, Montevideo 324-344-668, New London-Spicer 326-349-675, Sauk Rapids 344-344-688, Hutchinson 344-346-690, Benson 3267-366-693, Willmar JV 345-358-703, Rocori 341-368-709, Sartell 360-367-727, Bloomington Kennedy 345-394-739, Sauk Centre 379-366-745, Litchfield JV 376-378-354, Lac qui Parle Valley 406-422-828, Becker 319-WD, Dassel-Cokato 339, Annandale 344-WD,


Peter Jones, Owatonna, 72-81-153

Area results (Day 2 score first)

BENSON/KMS - Sam Peterson 82-79-161, Jordan Bruns 99-81-180, Brody Gimberlin 102-88-190, Zach Mauerer 87-79-166, Dan Lee 98-89-187

LQPV - Riley Sigdahl 89-86-175, Hunter Lind 98-100-198, Joe Arnold 106-110-216, Michael Stottler 138-125-263

LITCHFIELD A - Josh Polingo 78-76-154, Zach Whitchurch 82-79-161, Jordan Redepenning 91-80-171, Michael Waataja 79-77-156, Cameron Sundmark 86-78-164, Brcye Manning 96-79-175

LITCHFIELD JV - Max Hyberger 91-91-182, Brady Meyer 89-87-176, Dillon Storm 87-88-175, Nick Meyer 111-108-219

MONTEVIDEO - Phillips Ward 79-76-155, Mike Moritz 91-81-172, Ryan Knudson 89-84-173, Tyler Sachariason 85-86-171, Derek Bruns 107-88-195, Grant Tufto 95-83-178

NEW LONDON-SPICER - Reid Johnson 89-77-166, Joey Dreier 81-82-163, Kellen Bergh 100-83-183, Ethan Bohlsen 97-84-181, Corbin Schwartz 88-86-174, Jordan Baker 91-89-180

WILLMAR A - Hunter Schneider 88-78-166, Cody Magnuson 83-81-164, Tony Kallevig 89-81-170, Hunter Mottinger 79-85-164, Zech Streed 91-91-183

WILLMAR JV - Brady Damhof 89-84-173, Zach Berget 84-85-169, Austin Dahlberg 91-87-178, Jason Dickerson 94-89-183, Riley Grabow 101-92-193, TJ Mattison 102-94-196

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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