JHS ready for stateDean Kraft has the ideal situation worked out in his head.
By: Chris Aarhus, Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Dean Kraft has the ideal situation worked out in his head.
The Jamestown High School golf coach would like to see standout freshman Sierra Bennion stay toward the top of the leaderboard after the first day of Monday's Class A state meet at Prairie West Golf Course in Mandan.
By doing that, Bennion would get an entire round with the best prep golfers in the state on Tuesday, and that's an experience Kraft believes would greatly benefit her in the early stages of her high school career.
"The best case for her is that she knows she's in the hunt on Tuesday," Kraft said. "I really hope she plays her way into that last group, so she has to deal with (the pressure)."
The course she's playing on seems to fit her. Bennion won her first high school tournament there Sept. 11. She recently took second there at the West Region meet last week.
"I'm really confident in the way I'm playing right now," Bennion said. "I'm hitting (the driver) really long. If I can just get my putting in order, everything would be good."
The returning all-state selection has an average score of 81.5 per round, which is the fifth best in the state and third in the West Region. And Kraft said becoming a top player is all about dealing with the feelings that come with it, whether it be nerves, optimism or even pessimism.
"You have to acknowledge the fact that those expectations are out there, and you're gonna feel nerves from that," Kraft said. "When golfers finally accept it and embrace the fact that they've got butterflies and adrenaline and deal with it, that's when they're gonna perform under pressure and close tournaments out."
From the results of the region meet, it looks like the Blue Jays are handling that aspect fine. Every player in the lineup either tied or bettered their season-best score, helping Jamestown to a season-high third-place finish. Kraft was named West Region co-coach of the year by his peers.
"I'm really excited that the team made state this year," Bennion said. "We're gonna have a lot of fun."
Junior Maria LeFevre is another big scorer for the Blue Jays. The two-time all-region pick is 11th in the West Region this year with an average of 93.2 per round.
Kraft said the late-season improvement has mirrored what his teams have done the past few years.
"One thing we've done in our program the last few years is gear ourselves up to play the best at the end of the season," Kraft said. "We've had good regional tournaments, good state tournaments. We're not second-guessing anything in terms of preparation."
Fargo Davies looked like the team to beat up until a week ago. The Eagles had shot no worse than a 333 and won every tournament they had played in. However, Fargo North ended that streak by shooting a 340 to win the East Region meet, led by medalist Annie Twells. Davies came in second with a 351.
The West's major competition is likely to come from Bismarck Century, which took third behind Davies and North at the East-West to start the season. The Patriots have won every West Region tournament this season including a 318 at Tom O'Leary Golf Course.
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at 952-8462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org