Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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PRESCOTT, Wis. — It's not hard to find trouble at Clifton Highlands Golf Course in Prescott, Wis. In fact, every golfer that tees it up will run into at least 18 problems along the way. There are bunkers and trees to navigate, but the difficulty at Clifton Highlands isn't getting the ball to the green. It's where to land it and how to get the ball in the hole. "(The greens) are challenging. It's not a short course, but the greens will add strokes to your game," said Head Superintendent Todd Hauschildt. "There are no gimme putts."
The initials are the same, and the holes are, too. But that's about all that's left of the past for the Red Wing Golf Course. Last fall, Bill Holst purchased the Red Wing Golf Club, adding to his portfolio of Gopher Hills Golf Course in Cannon Falls, and Clifton Highlands Golf Course in Prescott, the three of which are branded as the River Valley Golf Trail. The new owner immediately set about updating the clubhouse and course into something more modern. And by most indications, the mission has been a success.
FRONTENAC — Dustin Heckman has two passions. And on Saturday, he once again got to put both to use. The Executive Director of the Goodhue County Historical Society and about two dozen others took to a field at Wakondiota Park in Old Frontenac for a game of base ball. Yes, two-words "base ball." "I love history, and I love baseball. And this lets me do both," Heckman said after two seven-inning games entertained a solid crowd that extended into left field from near home plate.
FRONTENAC — Sure, try to hit the road. You won't. But give it a go, pretty much everyone else who has gone through has done the same. But, really, you won't even hit the railroad tracks, and probably won't make it to the base of the bluff. That's OK. The highway is a half-mile away, and the tracks maybe a few hundred feet closer. Dustin Johnson won't get there, and neither will you.
Twelve. In three years, Tara Matuska struck out a dozen times. In 277 at-bats. Twelve. How does that happen? "That one I can't answer," said Tara's father, Mike said. "But I know it wasn't me. I set the tone in how to strike out when I was a senior. I had 28 strikeouts in one season. I remember the coach gave me a bat that was broken in half as an award. He said 'I don't think you need the whole thing.' It's great hand-eye coordination, but it's not something I gave her."
ROCHESTER — Top-ranked Lake City would've needed to no-show for the Section 1AA final round to not win the team championship. The Tigers did, however, find their way to Eastwood Golf Course in Rochester, where the girls would put up a two-day total of 639 to win a section title by 121 strokes over second-place Stewartville (760). "I wanted us to take it seriously, and play another good round," said Tigers head coach Steve Randgaard. "I knew we were up 51 strokes (after the first round) and we were going to win it, but I want them playing well before the state tournament."
ROCHESTER — Lake City, Red Wing and Rochester Lourdes entered Monday's final round of the Section 1AA boys golf tournament at Eastwood Golf Course in Rochester within three strokes of each other. And Byron lurked just 10 shots off the top three. A surprising or underwhelming round from any of the 18, or even 24, individuals on those teams could bring with it a state tournament, or a section championship that slipped away.
Pitching and defense, it's how Red Wing got to the Section 1AAA semifinal, and how they planned staying unbeaten in postseason play. Both of those facets of the game faltered at times on Saturday at Red Wing Athletic Field, but the Wingers once again found a way to win, beating Northfield, 3-2, to move into the section championship.
AUSTIN — The dugout was on the other side, most of the names on the lineup card were different, and the overall sense that history was about to be made was different. But Zumbrota-Mazeppa doesn't like different. The Cougars don't want change. The Section 1AA championship game is where they belong. And on Thursday, Z-M, the defending state champion and definite underdog, toppled top-seeded and second-ranked Rochester Lourdes twice, both times by a score of 7-2.
The top of the first inning was about as bad as Red Wing could imagine. Ben Domagala had to battle a strike zone that eliminated anything at the knees, and the Wingers' defense could only watch as Kasson-Mantorville laced line drive after line drive in front and between each defender. But there was no panic for the top-seeded team in the Section 1AAA tournament. Red Wing came back and tied the game in the bottom of the first, then took advantage of the same limited strike zone, and three K-M errors, for an 11-5 victory that sends the Wingers to the semifinals on Saturday, June 3.