About halfway through the boys golf season this spring, Jamestown High School decided to focus its energy toward positive thinking and good old-fashioned hard work.
As a result, a group of young men who weren't expected to do much have instead guided JHS to its first Class A state boys golf tournament in five years. The tourney begins tomorrow morning at Bois de Sioux Golf Course in Wahpeton.
"We come home from tournaments and some of these guys go back out and play," said JHS coach John Samuelson. "We'll get home at 7 and they're out at the course at 8:30. That's pretty awesome."
The fail-proof system helped the Jays qualify for state by rocketing to a third-place finish at the West Region tournament on May 28 at Garden Gate Golf Club in Dunseith. The Jamestown team of sophomore Jed Truax, junior Bryan Mitchell, freshman Hunter Mitchell, eighth grader Andrew Walz, junior Riley Ova and junior Darynt Carroll will be taking to the fairways over the next two days in Wahpeton, after only three of those golfers-Truax, Bryan Mitchell and Carrol-entered the season having any varsity experience.
But as the season progressed, and individual scores in the 90s began to consistently fall into the 80s, confident attitudes began to emerge.
Walz, who earned all-region recognition this spring, has shot a team-low 80, while Hunter Mitchell (81) and Truax (82) have also flirted with a possible round in the 70s. Jamestown has averaged a 355.44 team score in 2019, but the 330 it fired at the Turtle Mountain Invite on May 11 proved the Jays were headed in the right direction.
Samuelson credits a more mature brand of golf as helping the cause.
"We've been starting to realize that we don't really need to get up and rip driver on every hole," Samuelson explained. "I think the guys are realizing that controlled golf is a little bit better for them."
The Blue Jays will need to keep that in mind on the 6,573-yard, par-71 Bois de Sioux. Samuelson said the tree-lined course plays somewhat similar to Jamestown Country Club, where hitting balls straight and making distances count matter.
"If you make mistakes you're going to be playing those mistakes often out from under trees," Samuelson said. "The last conversation that I had with the guys was let's try to be at right around that 340-range. Let's get all four guys in with respectable scores, mid-80s or a little below would be awesome."
But it wouldn't be a surprise if the Blue Jays were to keep exceeding expectations this week. After all, they've already crashed the party.
Jamestown has been paired with Bismarck Century and Fargo Davies for Tuesday's opening round, which will begin at 9 a.m. Truax will get the Blue Jays' tournament started from the No. 1 tee box at 9:30 a.m., alongside Davies' Jack Olson and Century's Zach Johnson.
Grand Forks Red River is the two-time defending champion.
"I think the biggest thing for them is to realize that we don't need to come here and go super low," Samuelson said. "We just need to play how we know how to play. Stay in the parameters of what we can do and play controlled, smart golf."
Class A Boys Golf State Tournament
At Bois de Sioux C.C., Wahpeton
Tuesday A.M. Blue Jay tee times
9:30, Hole 1: Jed Truax, Jamestown (1), Jack Olson, Fargo Davies (1) and Zach Johnson, Bis. Century (1).
9:50, Hole 1: Bryan Mitchell, Jamestown (2), Alex Flam, Bis. Century (2) and Ethan Olson, Fargo Davies (2).
10:10, Hole 1: Hunter Mitchell, Jamestown (3), Logan Schoepp, Bis. Century (3) and Ty Satter, Fargo Davies (3).
10:30, Hole 1: Andrew Walz, Jamestown (4), Lucas Bousted, Bis. Century (4) and Sam Suppes, Fargo Davies (4).
10:50, Hole 1: Riley Ova, Jamestown (5), Dylan Nosbusch, Bis. Century (5) and Nick Forbes, Fargo Davies (5).
11:10, Hole 1: Darynt Carroll, Jamestown (6), Duncan Tufte, Bis. Century (6) and Max Karnick, Fargo Davies (6).