Merrill golfers wrap up Valley runner-up finish at home
The Bluejay golfers put the final touches on an outstanding conference season with strong second-place performances in the final two legs of the six-meet series.
They pulled back into second overall with last Tuesday’s runner-up meet in Stevens Point, then closed it out with another second-place finish on their home course on Friday.
“This was a great team improvement over the seventh-place finish from last year,” MHS coach Joe Mertens said. “Clearly our success this year came from improved play of Mike and Coty over last year. Both of these Bluejay golfers improved their averages from 89 last year to 83 this year, a big jump in scoring. Both golfers put together their best rounds (74 for Mike and 78 for Coty) at critical times in the season.
“We also were helped tremendously by the steady play of freshman Max Baranczyk whose season average was also 83. The threesome gave the Bluejays a steady and reliable performance week to week. An additional boost to the team were the 5th men of Mitchell Finnegan, Kevin Lee and Philip Guenther who each took turns in coming through big with an early team score to help boost the team at each meet.
“Mitchell Finnegan joined the varsity team a few meets ago and has been a consistent player since contributing big in our Bluejay invite team win with an 86, and second place conference finish at Stevens Point C.C. and an 85. Kevin Lee has played more on the varsity this year and has struggled to find his best game, but on one occasion, it did show up at the Wausau C.C. conference match where his score of 82 led the team to another second place finish.
“Philip Guenther joined the varsity team this past conference meet and come through big for us by posting our teams first score of 84 which ended up being the 12th-best score posted on the day and propelled our team to a solid second place finish and to retain the second place standing overall.”
Baranczyk, a freshman through the Bridges program from Suamico, paced the team with a 6th-place 38-43-81. Mike Pagel was a stroke back in 7th with a 41-41-82, while Philip Guenther tied for 10th with 40-44-84. Coty Guenther picked up 15th-place points with his 43-45-88, and Mitchell Finnegan’s 19th-place 44-46-90 didn’t count.
In the final individual standings, Pagel ranked 7th (39.5 points), Coty was 10th (30.5) putting both of them on the Valley Second Team. Baranczyk earned HM at 12th (26). Kevin Lee was 18th (9.5), Philip Guenther was 22nd (5) and Finnegan was 28th (1.5).
Team standings (team score, final standings, final points)-SPA­SH 322, 1st, 42; Merrill 335, 2nd, 32; Wisconsin Rapids 344, 4th, 26; Marshfield 348, 3rd, 30; Wausau West 355, 5th, 18; D.C. Everest 362, 6th, 14; Wausau East 387, 7th, 6.
Merrill had dropped back behind the Tigers with a momentary lapse on the previous Friday, but pulled back even by beating Marshfield on the challenging S.P.C.C. loop in last Tuesday’s penultimate Valley meet.
“The team came through again,” Mertens said. “We were hoping to regain our second place standing and we did just that. Mike Pagel came through with the best round of his year with a 2-over-par 74. Mike has always had the ability and skill and last night he confidently went about his business and played great tee-to-green. It was wonderful to see him so confident on the golf course, he was clearly in the golfer zone for the day.
“We also received well-needed supportive rounds from the rest of the team, our team total of 328 was the best in a couple years, and at a quality course like Point C.C. shows the talent this team has. Our team was rounded out with scores of 84 from Coty, and 85’s by Max and Mitchell. Mitchell went out first for the team and his 85 set the tone for a solid team score.”
Pagel scored third-place points with his 35-39-74, and Guenther 39-45-84 tied for 10th. Baranczyk (42-43) and Finnegan (44-41) capped it with their 85’s, and Kevin Lee shot 46-50-96.
Team standings-SPASH 301, Merrill 328, Marshfield 330, Wausau W. 335, Wis. Rapids 342, D.C.E. 355, Wausau E. 356.
The Jays also jumped into Monday’s Wausau City Meet and took home the title for the first time in 15 years Merrill has participated in the meet.
“Good news!” Mertens said. “Coty really turned it around for us with his back-nine score.”
Coty Guenther ranked third overall with a 46-36-82, and Baranczyk (42-43-85), Philip Guenther (40-47-87) and Finnegan (45-46-91) helped Merrill to a 345 tally. Pagel’s 52-52-104 wasn’t used.
Team standings-Merrill 345, D.C.E. 351, W.W. 355, W.E. 358.
Merrill competes in the WIAA Wausau West regional at Greenwood Hills today.