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Boys golfers end season at section tourney

Jake Cooper watches his drive down the fairway at the section 3AAA golf tournament. Cooper, an eighth-grader this year, will be the team's captain next year. (Rivertown Newspaper Group photo by Patrick Johnson)

The boys golf team ended its season Friday at Bunker Hills Golf Course in day two of the section 3AAA golf tournament. The team had a two-day total of 632, 18 shots behind section champion Eagan.

Max Fox missed qualifying for state in a three-player play-off. He finished with a 77, giving him a two-day total of 154, a score that would have qualified him for state in the other sections, head coach Pete McGinnis said. Fox shot a 40 on the front and came back with a 37 on the back.

Matt Radke, who shot 155, missed the play-off by just one shot. On day one at Keller Golf course, he shot a 74. He started on the front side at Bunker Hills with a 45. An amazing 36 on the back put him close to making the state tournament as a seventh-grader.

Also at the tournament, Nick Tusa shot 82, Sam Otto shot 85, Jacob Cooper shot 84 and Sean Eglington shot 95.

Losing one senior

The Raiders boys golf team was young this year, but that means that the majority of this year's golfers are likely to bring their experience back again next year. The varsity team will only lose one athlete at graduation, and that's Fox.

Fox, a senior, has been part of the Hastings golf program since seventh grade.

"He has been an outstanding student athlete for Hastings High School," McGinnis said.

He proved his skill last year when he won the section tournament and went on to play at state. While he wasn't able to repeat the performance this year, Fox left a positive mark on the team he's leaving behind.

"I know he was frustrated after the play-off hole, but he will be remembered for his great leadership, positive attitude and outstanding work ethic," McGinnis said. "He has done so much for our golf program by being a great role model for our younger golfers. We had 48 kids out for golf and Max taught them how to work at their games and play different courses. He was never afraid to work on his weaknesses. He spent many hours working on the short game with the younger players and made everyone around him better. He will be hard to replace."

Following in Fox's footsteps are a lot of middle school golfers. Nearly half - 21 of 48 - the boys out for golf this year were middle school students, and four of them played varsity all year. Seventh-grader Radke and eighth-graders Cooper, Otto and Tusa all contributed to the Raiders' varsity season.

Cooper was named captain for next year.

The younger boys will have more experience, but the competition won't get any easier.

"We have a lot to build on for the future," McGinnis said. "Everyone knows the level of play will only get better, so all golfers will have to keep working to compete for varsity spots next season."