NORFOLK, Neb. — A record third Class A golf title put Norfolk’s Luke Kluver under stress like he said he hadn’t experienced.
His future college coach said he liked how Kluver handled himself while shooting a 2-over 74 Wednesday at Norfolk Country Club to win by a stroke over Jake Boor of team champion Omaha Creighton Prep.
“Today, I thought he managed his emotions really well,” Kansas coach Jamie Bermel said. “The pressure, playing on your home course, senior year, all that stuff. We’ve never talked about it, but we’re human beings and I’m sure he was feeling a lot of pressure.
“And the fact it was an 18-hole sprint. One bad shot, one bad break. But anytime you birdie the last hole to win, he’s a competitor.”
Kluver, who missed the career slam with a second-place finish as a sophomore, said besides the stress, it was “the biggest grind I ever had on the golf course.”
There have been four three-time champions in other classes — Kevin Slocum of Franklin (sand greens, 1973-75), Jeff Erwin, O’Neill (B, 1975-77), Jason Peterson of Oakland -Craig (C, 1987-89) and Trevor Kosch of Humphrey St. Francis (D, 2014, 2016-17).
In one stretch of the round — the threat of lightning shortened the Class A and B tournaments from 36 holes to 18 — Kluver bogeyed four consecutive holes on the front nine. Another bogey on the penultimate hole dropped the senior into a tie at 3-over with Lincoln Southwest’s Josh Bartels. Four holes before, those two were tied with Chris Rasmussen of Elkhorn South (77) and Metro Conference champion Grant Jabenis of Omaha Westside (79).
On the last hole of his prep career, a par-5 on his home course, of course the outcome was going to be a birdie. Kluver’s second shot left him with a chip that he played to 3 feet.
“The front nine is tough. With this wind, there are no easy holes. The back nine is where I knew I was going to score,” he said. “I just tried to stay with Josh and just keep grinding.
“I tell you what, he kept throwing punches and I took a lot of them.”
Reflecting on the title that got away, Kluver said it was a lot like this year: “I had five bogeys in a row then. I had four in a row today, but I’m more mature now and handled it better today than I did back then.”
Kluver said he appreciated his family’s support.
His father, Klay, is a former state high jump champion and all-state basketball player from Clay Center. His mother, the former Michelle Patterson, lettered four times in golf at Nebraska after a stellar Class D career in volleyball, basketball and track at Loomis.
Younger brother Jake, a junior who had been second to Luke in four of their previous five tournaments, was a top-15 finisher Wednesday.
Prep won its 10th team title and first since 2015, the year before Class A moved to Norfolk. The Junior Jays were in the clubhouse with a four-golfer score of 313, with nine-hole leader Southwest still on the course.
When Bartels played the 18th, besides being tied with Kluver, Southwest was a stroke behind Prep. Bartels played his third shot — from the first fairway — to about 25 feet and gunned the putt with Kluver’s birdie virtually certain. The Southwest senior missed the 8-foot comebacker to finish at 76.
Prep’s scores were Boor’s 75, Josh Kramer’s 77, Rex Soulliere’s 79 and 82s by Tanner Muhlecke and Thomas Slattery. Only Muhlecke is a senior. That fivesome had five birdies but four double bogeys.
“I said this throughout the year that these guys don’t have many ups and downs,” Prep coach Matt Rasgorshek said. “They’re pretty level. They don’t let much get to them. They’re one of the best teams I’ve ever coached in the sense that they pick each other up when they’re down and they’re rooting for each other. It’s awesome.”
Boor, a sophomore, parred his final seven holes.
“He’s such a grinder,” Rasgorshek said. “He has such a great attitude. He deserves that.”
Luke Kluver said it was disappointing that his final high school state tournament was turned into a one-day event, “but you have to deal with it.”
“I knew what my goal was today, to be a three-timer,” he continued, “and I really tried to play my game. As tough as it was, I thought I did all right.”
Team scoring: Omaha Creighton Prep 313, Lincoln Southwest 315, Norfolk 322, Lincoln Pius X 333, Kearney 334, Omaha Westside 334, Elkhorn South 336, Millard North, 336, Gretna 338, Papillion-La Vista South 339, Lincoln East 341, Papillion-La Vista 343
Luke Kluver, Norfolk 74
Jacob Boor, Creighton Prep 75
Josh Bartels, Lincoln Southwest 76
Josh Kramer, Creighton Prep 77
Isaac Heimes, Norfolk 77
Josh Peters, Millard North 77
Chris Rasmussen, Elkhorn South 77
Nolan Vondra, Papillion-La Vista 78
Tanner Rigg, Lincoln Southwest 78
Rex Soulliere, Creighton Prep 79
Rourke Jensen, Lincoln North Star 79
Jacob Hellman, Omaha Westside 79
Grant Jabenis, Omaha Westside 79
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