BOONE – With a little touch of drama, the Ballard boys’ golf team advanced to districts after placing second at the Class 3A sectional meet at the Cedar Pointe Golf Course in Boone Friday.
Quality depth was the key for Ballard as the Bombers had to win a card-back with Gilbert to earn second place. Ballard and Gilbert both shot a 311 as a team, but Ballard’s fifth-place individual score of 81 was two strokes better than the Tigers’ No. 5 scorer.
Ballard had two players shoot under 80 over 18 holes in Nick Hartman and Sage Fitchko, who both qualified individually for districts. Nash Bucher carded an 80 and Mason Jensen, Ty Mason and Mike McVicker each shot an 81 to tie for the final counted score and also secure the card-back victory.
“We’ve all been up and down this season, but we came together when we needed to,” Ballard’s Nick Hartman said. “Our top six is so balanced that we feel even if one person has a bad day, we can feel comfortable coming into the club house because we have such depth.”
Hartman shot two-over par with a 74 to end up the medalist runner-up. He beat Gilbert’s Ben Hinners by one stroke for second individually.
Hartman delivered a 39 on the front nine then really stepped up his game down the back stretch. His score only trailed the two-under par round of 70 by Webster City’s Avery Fuhs.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of work and I just felt like today it finally all came together,” Hartman said. “My putting was a lot better than it has been. I’ve had a lot of three-putts this year and didn’t have any today.”
Fitchko tied with Webster City’s Alec Fuhs and Logan Yates for the fourth and final individual qualifying spot. Yates won a playoff between the three, but they all qualified for districts.
Fitchko didn’t start the year on varsity, but he has really come on down the stretch for the Bombers.
“I’m just taking my coach (Don Sears’) advice on taking one shot at a time,” Fitchko said. “I’m really focusing in on my game and working hard to shoot low scores. I’ve been playing really well lately and it feels great.”
Fitchko shot a 39 on the front nine and improved two strokes on the back. Bucher shot two nine-hole rounds of 40, McVicker and Jensen both shot 39 and 42 respectively and Mason carded a 43 and a 38.
Final team scores (18 holes): 1. Webster City 299, 2. (tie) Ballard* and Gilbert 311, 4. Boone 326, 5. DCG 331, 6. Nevada 332, 7. Iowa Falls-Alden 348, 8. Perry 360.
*Won card-back for second place
Ballard (311) – Nick Hartman 39-35-74, Sage Fitchko 39-37-76, Nash Bucher 40-40-80, Mike McVicker 39-42-81, Mason Jensen 39-42-81, Ty Mason 43-38-81.
Individual district qualifiers: 1. Avery Fuhs (WC), 70; 2. Nick Hartman (B), 74; 3. Ben Hinners (G), 75; 4. (tie) Alec Fuhs (WC), Logan Yates (WC)* and Sage Fitchko (B), 76.
*Won playoff for fourth place