Swing of success

The Minot High boys golf team is proving its season-opening win at the Minot Invite on April 23 was no fluke.

Since their one-stroke victory over Jamestown at Souris Valley Golf Course, the Magicians have won two more tournament titles. Entering this season, no one on the current roster had been part of a team title.

“Everybody’s been playing good,” Minot senior Taran Albright said. “They have their days where they have a bad round, but everyone works together and puts together a good team score.”

The Magicians claimed the Dickinson Invitational at Heart River Golf Course on May 5 with a team score of 320, edging Bismarck by two strokes. Four days later, Minot had its best performance of the season, shooting a 300 to win the Williston Invitational at The Links of North Dakota. The Magicians fended off St. Mary’s and Jamestown by one stroke. It was their best team score by 14 strokes.

“We’ve just been hitting fairways, hitting greens,” junior Ty Jones said. “It comes down to every putt.”

Leading the charge is senior Jersey Kelly, who’s been Minot’s top individual scorer in all but two tournaments this year. Kelly has been within two strokes of winning medalist honors in three events this season. He carded his lowest round of the year Friday in Williston, shooting a 1-over 73.

“I think our guys have gotten a lot better,” Minot senior Jersey Kelly said. “Our top four have been playing really solid. The coaching staff has been doing great. Other than that, we’re just playing good golf.”

Kelly is the only Magician averaging rounds in the 70s (79.2). The other three Minot scorers average rounds in the low 80s. Sophomore Cody Reynolds is second on the team in scoring (81.4), followed by Jones (81.9) and Albright (83.5). All four shot or matched their best round of the season at the Williston Invite. Reynolds carded a 74, Jones a 75 and Albright a 78. Reynolds also posted a 74 at the Turtle Mountain Invite and finished tied for second.

“We have four guys who can shoot in the 70s almost every day and we can put up scores in the low 300s,” Reynolds said. “Hopefully we can get a state championship before the two seniors leave.”

The only course thus far that has given the Magicians trouble is one they will see plenty of at season’s end. Jamestown County Club, which hosts both the West Region tournament and the state tournament, gave Minot fits during the East-West Crossover on April 25-26. The Magicians shot a season-worst 354 in the first round of the two-day tournament and finished eighth with a 690. All four Minot scorers posted their highest rounds at Jamestown County Club.

“Jamestown’s got a lot of trees,” Reynolds said. “You can get into some trouble, but if you hit the fairways you should be fine.”

Defense remains solid for girls soccer

The biggest difference this season for the Minot High girls soccer team is, without question, its ability to put the ball in the back of the net. That is something that is a dramatic change from last year.

One thing that has not changed is its defense. The Majettes’ defenders and junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stenberg have stymied opposing teams all season. Minot has allowed just two goals in eight matches this year – one to Grand Forks Red River and one to Century.

“We just work hard and we communicate back and forth,” Minot senior Chenoa Erz said. “If our outside wings slide up, we make sure someone drops to cover their position so we don’t have any gaps.”

Minot’s defenders have made life easy for Stenberg, who has faced five or fewer shots in five matches. She’s only had to make three saves combined in two games against Jamestown. But she has had moments where’s she’s been needed to keep the Majettes in front. Stenberg’s made 15 combined saves in four 1-0 victories. She recorded a season-high 17 saves in a 1-0 loss to Century. She has 47 saves this season.

The Majettes (9-1 overall, 7-1 West Region) opted to use a different formation this season to atone for last year’s lack of scoring, which meant four defenders instead of five. The loss of a defender hasn’t made Minot any less stingy as it hasn’t allowed more than 10 shots per game in wins this season.

“Our defense in seven conference games have given up one goal,” Minot coach Matt Pfau said. “They’ve had six shutouts. They just win every ball back there.”

Minot’s roster includes seven defenders two seniors, two juniors and three sophomores. Its defense has even made it into the scoring column as Lennon recorded a goal against Jamestown on April 30.

Magicians eye 3rd-place finish, more qualifiers at West Region meet

The Minot High boys track and field team isn’t worrying about winning the West Region meet Saturday in Bismarck, especially with Bismarck and Century among the competition.

The Magicians are more concerned about fine-tuning their sprints and relay teams and getting a few last-minute state qualifiers. In terms of scoring, Minot is hoping for a third-place finish.

“There’s a couple good teams we’re going to be fighting with,” Minot coach Aaron Klingbeil said. “Dickinson has a habit of performing well there. We want to see how we compare with the other teams we’re fighting with to get a top-five place at state.”

Minot enters the meet having qualified in 12 of 19 events. The Magicians’ 400-meter relay team of seniors Josh Pizzo and Alex Yanosko, junior Karter Gorney and sophomore Myles Preskey own the top time in the state at 43.71 seconds. Senior Anray Fiers triple jump distance of 44 feet, 6 1/2 inches is tops in the state. Fiers has the second-best score in the long jump at 22-0.25.

The Magicians have qualified in every track event except the 1,600, 3,200 and the 300 hurdles. Billy Sartwell, Andrew Beach and Dylan Ellis were all within 10 seconds of qualifying in the 1,600 at the Duane Carlson Invite on May 1. The state-qualifying time for the 1,600 is 4:35.24.

Despite not having a distance runner in the state meet field with one last meet remaining, Klingbeil believes they are peaking.

“Our distance came in with a lot of promise and then when we got outdoors there was some trouble,” he said. “They’re really starting to come on and it’s at the right time. We’re afraid maybe it’s a little too late, but there’s still a chance.”

Joining Fiers as qualifiers in the field events are seniors Alex Yanosko (long jump) and Ben Love (pole vault). Love has also qualified in the 110 hurdles.

Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.