Familiar surroundings

The Minot High boys golf team has seen plenty of Jamestown Country Club this season.

The Magicians have had their share of trouble at the 6,567-yard golf course but have also experienced their share of success in the previous two Jamestown tournaments in which they’ve played.

Minot returns to Jamestown Country Club for a third time to tee off in the two-day state tournament, beginning at 9 a.m. today. The Magicians are making their fourth consecutive appearance in the same event.

“It’s as comfortable as one place could be,” Minot coach Shane Hannegrafs said. “It’s a challenging golf course to really get comfortable on. You have to drive the ball extremely well. You can get into trouble in a hurry. You need to stay focused every time you step out onto the tee.”

Minot’s first visit to Jamestown is one it would like to forget.

In the first round of the two-day East-West Crossover, the Magicians shot a team score of 354, 14 strokes higher than any other tournament this season. It was a tough day all around for Minot as senior Taran Albright and junior Ty Jones shot a team-best 87, 15 shots over par. Sophomore Cody Reynolds carded an 89 and senior Jersey Kelly shot a 91.

The Magicians shaved 18 strokes off their second round but finished eighth. Five of Minot’s top six carded a lower second round, including Kelly, who shot a team-best 76.

Their latest trip to Jamestown was more of what they had in mind.

The Magicians claimed the West Region championship for the first time since 2003. Minot carded a 317 and defeated Jamestown by two strokes.

Kelly and Albright were named all-region, finishing among the top 10 individual scorers. Kelly finished second with a 1-over 73 and Albright shot a 77 to finish in a tie for third. It was Minot’s fourth victory of the season.

“The East-West was right away at the beginning of the year,” Hannegrefs said. “It was our second competitive round. The regional was nice weather and was our 11th round of the year. We’ve had a lot of swings between that span of time.”

The Magicians are hoping the region title leads to a state title, much like it did in 2003.

“We have several kids who are very confident,” Hannegrefs said. “They’ve put in a lot of work and they feel good about their game. We still have a few kids who are fighting it a little bit and having some good days and some bad days, but I think we know if we can go out there and put out four good scores from our team that we have an opportunity to do well.”

Minot enters the state tournament with the third-best overall scoring among the nine West Region teams (323.8). Only Jamestown (322.6) and Century (323.2) had a better average.

Kelly and Jones tee off at 9:09 a.m., followed by Albright at 9:18 a.m. and Reynolds at 9:27 a.m. Cole Nelson (9:27 a.m.) and Ian Geller (9:18 a.m.) round out Minot’s top six.

While it is a two-day tournament, Hannegrefs stressed the importance of getting off to a good start.

“The old saying goes ‘You can’t go out and win the state tournament the first day, but you can lose it,'” he said. “It’s going to be important we’re in contention the first day. We need to play very solid golf top to bottom and be within a striking distance and see if we can get one or two hot golfers push ourselves through.”

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