COLUMBUS, Neb. — 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 what he was most proud of was not having any three putts.
“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 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 give up.”
Junior Tanner Ruda also medaled with his 83, finishing in a four-way tie for 12th. Senior Andrew 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.”
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.”
Mount Michael 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.”
Team scoring: North Platte 326, Adams Central 328, Grand Island Northwest 337, York 339, Omaha Skutt 340, Wahoo Neumann 341, Beatrice 351, Bennington 351, Cozad 355, Norris 363, McCook 369, Platteview 398
Luke Gutschewski, Mount Michael 71
Charles Zielinski, Omaha Skutt 73
Bryce VunCannon, Columbus Scotus 75
Reed Malleck, York 76
Jayden Jones, North Platte 78
Kasch Morrison, North Platte 79
Nathan Sughroue, Adams Central 81
Nolan Sughroue, Adams Central 81
Marcus Eriksen, Grand Island NW 81
Tyler Welch, Seward 81