The 2022 state Class A golf meet at Pebble Creek Golf Course in Becker featured two “Journal 11” teams, Fillmore Central’s girls and Rushford-Peterson’s boys. It featured individuals Clay Schwichtenberg and Chloe Schnebly of Lanes-boro, Jake Fishbaugher of Fillmore Central. Said 15 athletes took on a weather-diverse event at the 18-hole par 72 course. Day One on Tuesday was hot, in the 90s, with a strong southernly wind. Day Two on Wednesday was more seasonal (60s in the morning, 70s in the day), but featured rain showers until the late afternoon. The highlights were one girl tip-tapping with a couple of her school’s recent bests, one guy keeping his golf light shining brightly, and a dynasty moving back in the direction of state preeminence.
Hershberger and Fishbaugher Top Eights Highlight FC’s Performance
Fillmore Central golf has been strong for a number of years, led by its girls teams. Aaron Mensink’s ladies made their eighth straight state tournament appearance this year. On the boys side, Brad Holten took Jake
Fishbaugher for his third individual tourney. He was a top eight placer a season ago and a sophomore. And though Fishbaugher again was near the top of the field, and FC’s girls made it back into the top half, junior gal Courtney Hershberger was the biggest standout. She golfed herself into select company. After the first 18 holes on Day 1, Hershberger was doing good. She shot a 19-over 91 (45/46) to find herself in 13th place. Legacy Christian Academy’s Emily Brandt led the field with a nine-over 81. Hershberger was 10 shots back of the leader, but just seven shots out of second place, a spot held by Lac qui Parle Valley’s Isabella Jacobs (12-over 84). Then the second round of 18 holes came about Day 2 and FC’s top female golfer was impressive. Hershberger shot a great 39 over her first nine holes. Said sub-40 score not only put her in (outside) contention for the state title, but the score was noteworthy to FC’s girls golf dynasty history. After four pars her first 18 holes, Hershberger put up four pars her next nine holes, plus a birdie (on the par-five second). Her second nine holes on Day 2 weren’t quite so precocious. But she still posted three pars and a birdie, notching a 43. She shot an 82, which was the second lowest Day 2 score of any golfer. It pushed Hershberger from outside the top 10, into the top five. Overall, Courtney (91/82 > 173, +29) took third place behind LCA’s Brandt (81/84 > 165, +21) and Walker-
Hackensack-Akeley’s Kianna Johnson (85/81 > 166, +22), who shot the lowest Day 2 total (81). Hershberger moved up a full 10 spots by scoring nine strokes lower than her first 18 holes. She was eight strokes better than her 1A title winning score of 181. As for FC girls golf dynasty history, over the past eight seasons of the Falcon girls making state, only Grace Miller and Madison Scheevel have posted sub-40 rounds on the big stage. Each have done so multiple times. Only two girls, Miller and Scheevel, have posted sub-175 total tallies at the state meet. Hershberger joined that esteemed duo with her efforts. Courtney’s 173 is the ninth highest tourney tally in the eight years of the Falcons making state. Scheevel and Miller own the other nine top 10 scores. Hershberger’s 39 ties Miller and Scheevel (each multiple times) as the third lowest nine-hole total by a Falcon at state in the eight-year run. Miller (37 in 2018) and Scheevel (38 in 2016) hold the top two spots as well. Naturally, Hershberger joined Miller and Scheevel as having finished top 10 at state. Courtney took 22nd at state last season, shooting a 187.
Hershberger’s performance out-shined that of classmate Jake Fishbaugher, who entered the tourney as the Falcons’ biggest golfing standout. The 2022 TRC Meet and Section 1A champ tied for 9th place last year, shooting a 152 (75/77). He also went to state as just an 8th grader in 2019. Fishbaugher was hoping to move into the top three this year. After Day 1, he had some work to do to accomplish that feat. Fishbaugher sat tied for 13th place with a nine-over 81. He posted one birdie, 10 pars, four bogeys, and three double bogeys, shooting 42 and 39 for his respective nine-hole tallies (81). But like Hershberger, his best effort was on Day 2. Fishbaugher piled up the pars, 13 to be exact. He started his round with eight straight, then a birdie, to shoot a one-under 35. His second
nine had a couple bogeys and a double. All told, Fishbaugher shot a two-over 74 (35/39) his second day. He was seven strokes better than Day 1. The performance allowed him to post a 36-hole tally of 155, which is 11-over par. Jake chalked up his second straight top ten finish at state. He checked in tied for 8th place (81/74 > 155) with Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa’s Gannon Walsh. Jake was up three strokes from last year’s 152, but one stroke ahead of his 1A title day score of 156. New Life Academy’s Cole Witherow (73/73 > 146, +2) nipped Fertile-Beltrami’s Rylin Petry (75/72 > 147, +3), the defending state champion, and the Marshall School’s Noah Scullard-Bender (73/75 > 148, +4) for the state title. Fishbaugher was the top 1A boy’s finisher.
Team-wise, FC’s gals group is young and improving. Years one thru five of the dynasty, the Falcons finished top three each season (including winning the 2016 state title). The last two years, they took eighth and seventh place respectively. This year’s group moved back into the upper half of the field. After Day 1, FC (393) sat in fourth place, just two strokes better than fifth place North Woods (395). The Falcons were 25 strokes back of Park Christian (368) for third. Courtney Hershberger (91, 13th place), Myleigh Scheevel (100, 34th place), Aubrey Larson (101, tied 39th place), and Marissa Topness (101, tied 39th place) were their four scoring golfers. Annika Mensink (106, tied 58th place) and Chloe Morem (109, 67th place) rounded out their six-girl team. But egged by Hershberger’s big Day 2, FC (393/385 > 778) fended off North Woods (395/396 > 791) to claim 4th place. Legacy Christian Academy (354/362 > 716) brought home the state title with Lac qui Parle
Valley (354/369 > 723) taking second and Park Christian (368/373 > 741) third. Hershberger (91/82 > 173, 3rd place) easily led the Falcons. Topness, the only senior on the team, was their second highest finisher (101/101 > 202, tied 41st place). Her best individual hole efforts were two pars. Larson (101/103 > 204, tied 45th place) checked in third. She had seven pars all on the front nine (shot 46 and 45). The back nine was her bugaboo with zero pars (shot 55 and 58). Scheevel (100/105 > 205, tied 47th place) was FC’s fourth highest golfer. She had three pars. Morem (109/99 > 208, 55th place) was 10 strokes better from Day 1 (109) to Day 2 (99). She had three pars. The Falcons used her score with Hershberger, Topness, and Larson for their Day 2 foursome. Mensink (106/103 > 209, 56th place) rounded out the Falcons’ golfers. Her only par was her last hole. Eighty-five total girls competed. Last season, Topness (196) was six strokes better, Morem (207) one stroke better. Hershberger improved by 14 strokes (187). Scheevel improved by eight strokes (213). Larson improved by nineteen strokes (223). The Falcons are young. Only Topness is a senior. Hershberger and Morem are juniors. Larson is a sophomore. Scheevel and Mensink are freshman. Lily Miller, another freshman, competed at last year’s state meet. But she was beat out by Mensink this season. FC will have some improving to do again in moving more toward state contention. Their 778 was better than the past two years, 812 and 802. But 716 won the 2022 girls state title. FC’s state title team (2016 > 692), and three second place teams (2015 > 701; 2017 > 697; 2018 > 715) all posted scores of 715 or better.
Trojan Boys Find Becker Tough-Going
On the boys team side of things, Rushford-Peterson, like the last three guy golf teams to qualify for state from Fillmore County, found Becker’s Pebble Creek Course challenging. Luke Rye’s Trojans, after Day 1, were in 8th place of eight teams. R-P shot a collective 391. Seventh place United South Central sat above R-P on the leaderboard with a 362. Fertile-Beltrami (323) led the Marshall School of Duluth (333) at the top of the team rankings. The Trojans played better golf Day 2, shooting a 366. They improved 25 strokes. But they made no ground on any foe ahead of them, and R-P (757) finished eighth. New Life Academy of Woodbury (714) was in the seventh position, 43 strokes ahead up on the Trojans. Fertile-Beltrami (632) won the state title by 30 strokes over the Marshall School (662). The Trojans shot a 36-hole 713 at sections. New Life’s Cole Witherow (73/73 > 146, +2) was individual state champion by one stroke over defending state champ F-B’s Rylin Petry (75/72 > 147, +3) and two strokes over the Marshall School’s Noah Scullard-Bender (73/75 > 148, +4). R-P’s top finisher was senior Andrew Hoiness. After the first 18-holes, he sat tied for 49th place (18-over 90). Hoiness cut eight strokes on Day 2, tallying an 82 (41/41). He finished with a 172 (+28), tying him for 37th place. Pars for him were more abundant Day 2 (10) than Day 1 (5). Hoiness shot 160 when taking third at sections. The boys field had 88 total competitors, and the rest of the Trojans all finished in the bottom 1/3 on the field. Junior Grady Hengel (93/90 > 183) tied for 60th place. He was 39-over, amassing eight pars. Four came his first nine holes when he shot his best round, a 43. His second nine holes, he shot a 50 though. Senior Carson Thompson (102/93 > 195) joined Hoiness in improving a lot of Day 1 to Day 2. He took 74th place with 51-over, having six Day 2 pars after just two Day 1. Thompson shot 183 at sections. Junior Owen Fenske took 83rd (106/106 > 212), sophomore Ethan Bedard 84th (112/101 > 213), and junior Jackson Dvorak 86th place (111/103 > 214) respectively. Dvorak had R-P’s only birdie, but he shot a 10 the hole before and an eight the hole after. All six Trojans saw their scores go up from sections to state. Hoiness gets the distinction of making state twice his senior year. He went with LARP’s cross country team. Thompson, Hengel, Fenske, and Bedard also were dual state qualifiers, having gone with the football team in the fall. And thus, R-P sees its football team, boys cross-country team, and boys golf team all make state the same year, an impressive feat. The last three “Journal” boys golf teams to take on state also struggled. Lanesboro took seventh last season. Kingsland took eighth in 2018. Fillmore Central took eighth in 2015.
Schwichtenberg and Schnebly Compete for Lanesboro
While FC and R-P each had a team make state, Lanesboro, which has been a successful golf program over the years, sending a number on individuals, did so again. Senior Clay Schwichtenberg and junior Chloe Schnebly each qualified on the boys and girls sides respectively. For Schwichtenberg, it was his second state golf meet. Last year, he went with the 1A champion Burro team. Schwichtenberg shot a 36-hole tally of 188 (100/88) to tie for 69th place in 2021. This year, he cuts four strokes off his score. He shot a Day 1 97 (48/49) but a Day 2 87 (43/44). His 184 (+40) allowed him to tie for 64th place (behind a foursome that included R-P’s Hengel). Schwichtenberg had seven pars, five coming on Day 2. Fertile-Beltrami (632) won the boys team title over the Marshall School of Duluth (662). New Life Academy’s Cole Witherow (73/73 > 146, +2) was narrowly individual state champion over F-B’s Rylin Petry (75/72 > 147, +3) and the Marshall School’s Noah Scullard-Bender (73/75 > 148, +4). Schwichtenberg’s athletic career sports a trio of state qualifications, the two in golf and a third as a part of Lanesboro’s 2021 state football qualifier. Chloe Schnebly joined the good-sized list of Burro female state qualifiers. The SEC Meet champ was like most of the “Journal 11” state qualifiers. She struggled Day 1 in the heat and wind. Schnebly shot a 114 but a much better Day 2 99. Her 36-hole tally of 213 gave Schnebly a 63th place finish in 85-gal field. She had four pars and all came Day 2. Emily Brandt (81/84 > 165, +21) of Legacy Christian Academy, Kianna Johnson (85/81 > 166, +22) of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, and Fillmore Central’s Courtney Hershberger (91/82 > 173, +29) finished one, two, and three. LCA (716) topped Lac qui Parle Valley (723) for the girls title. Schnebly joins Lady Burros Paige Hungerholt, Johanna Bearson, Kiah Halvorson, Brynn Harmon, Jannell Boyum, and Madeline Snyder as having qualified individually for state over the past decade or so.
*Fillmore County Journal Sports page is a written collaboration by Paul Trende and Lee Epps.