COLUMBUS — Those sand greens trophies that have been displayed in North Platte’s trophy case for more than 60 years are getting a new grass neighbor.
The Bulldogs won the Class B championship Wednesday, finishing two strokes ahead of Adams Central on a blustery day at the Elks Country Club. North Platte’s top four players shot a combined 326 on the 6,600-yard course.
"It’s been awhile, so it’s a big deal in our town," North Platte coach Jim Orcutt said. "This is very special. I knew it was going to be a pretty close race between a lot of different teams.
"We just knew we had to play well in order to come out on top, and they did it."
Elkhorn Mount Michael’s Luke Gutschewski was the individual champion. The sophomore, who shot 35-36 for a 1-under 71, was the only player in the state’s four classes to finish his round under par.
Gutschewski, the son of pro golfer Scott Gutschewski, had three birdies and two bogeys in his round. But the part he was most proud of was not having any three-putt greens.
"It was all putting, good putting," Gutschewski said. "Everything else was kind of OK, but it was good putting that saved me."
Omaha Skutt junior Charles Zielinski finished second with a 1-over 73.
This was the first weather-shortened Class B final since McCook won a one-day event in 2011. Tuesday’s first round was canceled because of the threat of lightning before all players would have completed their rounds.
The Bulldogs were the only team with two players who shot under 80. Junior Jayden Jones shot a 78 that included a 38 on the back nine to finish fifth while sophomore Kasch Morrison checked in with a 79 for sixth place.
"It was really good that Jaden Jones came back and medaled again this year and kept the ball on the golf course," Orcutt said. "Sometimes he can be a little wild. That was a key. All the guys just never giving up."
Junior Tanner Ruda also medaled with his 83, finishing in a four-way tie for 12th. Senior Drew Phillips was North Platte’s No. 4 scorer with an 86 and junior Finn Lucas finished with a 91.
"I think the best thing we did was trying to stay in the moment as much as we could, not let the wind beat us down too much," Orcutt said. "The bunch of kids worked really hard in the offseason."
Orcutt has been North Platte’s coach for 35 years. He found out the Bulldogs won the team title when his daughter called to let him know the results were posted online.
Getting that information before the awards ceremony allowed Orcutt to process some of the emotions before he presented the individual medals to his players.
"I couldn’t speak for a while," Orcutt said. "It feels great. I had a little experience going through that with the girls as runner-up in Class A last fall, so at least we knew the procedure. This was very special."
Out of all the putts Gutschewski made Wednesday, he said the biggest was one of his last.
"I made a really, really nice par save with a 15-footer on 17," Gutschewski said. "That kept me in the lead, so that really helped. That one felt big."
Knights coach Kent Christenson said he and Gutschewski purposely didn’t keep an eye on how other players were doing. Gutschewski’s threesome was four or five groups behind the final trio.
"We knew it was going to be a tough day," Christenson said. "I told him we don’t want to know what the other players are doing. Just go out and play your game.
That’s what he did, and he had some nice up-and-downs and played a solid round of golf today in tough conditions."
1, North Platte, 326. 2, Adams Central, 328. 3, York, 339. 4, Omaha Skutt Catholic, 340. 5, Bishop Neumann, 341. T6, Beatrice, 351. T6, Bennington, 351. 8, Northwest, 353. 9, Cozad, 355. 10, Norris, 363. 11, McCook, 369. 12, Platteview, 398.
Individual top 15
1, Luke Gutschewski, Mount Michael Benedictine, 71. 2, Charles Zielinski, Omaha Skutt Catholic, 73. 3, Bryce VunCannon, Columbus Scotus, 75. 4, Reed Malleck, York, 76. 5, Jayden Jones, North Platte, 78. 6, Kasch Morrison, North Platte, 79. T7, Nathan Sughroue, Adams Central, 81. T7, Nolan Sughroue, Adams Central, 81. T7, Marcus Eriksen, Northwest, 81. T7, Tyler Welch, Seward, 81. 11, John Pohlson, Adams Central, 82. T12, Crayten Cyza, Alliance, 83. T12, Andrew Paquette, Beatrice, 83. T12, Tanner Ruda, North Platte, 83. T12, Matthew Anderson, Holdrege, 83.
North Platte — Jayden Jones, 78. Kasch Morrison, 79. Tanner Ruda, 83. Andrew Phillips, 86. Finn Lucas, 91.
Cozad — Adam Cole, 85. Brady Davis, 87. Jacob Engel, 91. Dillon Geiser, 92. Paul Cole, 96.
McCook — Brady Esch, 85. Logan Barenberg, 93. Payton Craw, 95. Brandan Eckhardt, 96. Joel Gray, 97.