LAINGSBURG — Zach Koerner of Laingsburg delivered a record-setting season.
The individual champion of the Central Michigan Athletic Conference for the second year in a row, the sophomore placed 19th last week at the MHSAA Lower Penninsula Division 3 finals.
Wielding the lowest 18-hole average in the area at 76.1, Koerner has been named The Argus-Press All-Area Boys Golfer of the Year for 2019.
“My biggest highlight was making it through the regionals,” Koerner said. “That was a big deal to me. Last year, we kind of came up short. I would have liked to have made it as a team more than individually (this year). It still felt good to make it to states individually as well.”
Laingsburg head coach Greg Beavers said Koerner improved in all aspects of his game and shaved 10 strokes off his average from last season.
“Experience and the understanding of what to do and what not to do,” Beavers said. “Experience comes with playing.”
Koerner qualified for the state meet by placing second at the Division 3 regional at Cascades Golf Course in Jackson. He shot 74. The runner-up finish — two strokes behind regional and eventual state champ Jack Brockie of Hanover-Horton — helped ease the pain of missing out on last year’s state meet.
In 2018, the Wolfpack missed qualifying as a team by one stroke at 333. Koerner, then a freshman, shot 85 — seven shots away from third-place finisher Seth Breseman of Onsted.
This season was different.
Laingsburg captured its fifth consecutive CMAC title, but missed out making the state meet again, finishing sixth at regionals. The Wolfpack shot a lower score than they did the previous season — a 331 total — but were still five strokes behind third-place Napoleon.
“Our region was really really good this year,” Koerner said. “That was tough to see.”
At the state meet, playing Katke Golf Course on the campus of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Koerner carded rounds 82 and 81 for a 163 total. That was 21 shots behind state champion Brockie, finished with 142 (73-69).
“I wasn’t hitting the ball that well,” Koerner said. “That was a course that you really need to hit the ball straight off the tee. And my tee shots were a little off those two days. It was a tough course. I didn’t play extremely badly, but I wasn’t having a good day.”
Koerner’s best day came May 4 during the Gladwin Invitational at Sugar Springs Golf Club. He shot an 18-hole Laingsburg school record of 69, highlighting his round with an eagle.
“I wasn’t missing the fairways,” he said. “I was hitting a lot of my wedge shots close. I made a couple of good putts. It was just all around a pretty good day. I just didn’t really have any bad holes.”
He dropped a shot on the final hole with a bogey, but still bested the former school record of 70 held by Alex Coss, Josh Jelinek and Jagger Richard. Coss was the first of the trio to hit 70 back in 1987, Beavers said.
“I hit a good tee shot. I just hit a pitching wedge over the green and gave myself a really hard chip,” Koerner said of the last hole. I had a long putt for par and then I just put it in close and tapped it in for bogey.”
As he walked off the course, Koerner was unaware he had broken the varsity record.
“I was just trying to break 70,” he said.
Koerner was the medalist at the CMAC Tournament with an 83 at The Emerald in St. Johns and was also the co-medalist of the Holt Invitational with a round of 75.
Koerner said there is some work to be done on improving his game.
He also said the team’s potential looks to be strong heading into 2020.
GOLFER OF THE YEAR
A regional runner-up, Koerner finished 19th in the state in Division 3 and also set a Laingsburg varsity record for 18 holes this season. Just a sophomore, he should be an area golf staple for the next two seasons.
Limas won the individual championship in the first year of the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference. He also led the Railroaders to an outright MMAC team league title as Durand won the MMAC Preseason Tournament and went unbeaten in dual-meet matches. Limas was medalist at the MMAC Preseason at Hunter’s Ridge in Howell, shooting a 3-over par 74. Limas tied for second at the MMAC Postseason Tournament with an 87. He averaged a team-low 81.6 per 18 holes. He tied for 12th at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Invitational in Perry with an 86.
New Lothrop, senior
Fras totaled the second-most points in the MMAC this season with 91. The first-team all-leaguer won the MMAC Postseason Tournament with an 85 at Briar Ridge in Montrose. Fras placed fifth at the Division 4 regionals at Verona Hills in Bad Axe with an 84. Fras — whose nine-hole average of 44 tied for tops on the New Lothrop squad — was third at the MMAC Preseason with a 77. He also tied for sixth place with an 84 at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Invitational in Perry.
James finished third overall in the MMAC with 86.5 points. The first-team all-leaguer tied for second place at the MMAC Postseason with an 87. James placed ninth at the Division 3 regional at Red Hawk Golf Course in East Tawas with an 86.
New Lothrop, sophomore
Ruddy finished tied for third at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Invitational with an all-tournament round of 81. He also came to the fore at the Division 4 state finals, shooting a two-day team-low score of 177 (86-91) at The Meadows in Allendale. Ruddy finished fourth at the MMAC Preseason with an 83. Ruddy also shared the lowest nine-hole average for New Lothrop with a 44.0.
Soultner compiled the second-lowest average on the Laingsburg squad in 2019 at 82.0. He finished second overall at the CMAC Championships, shooting 84 — trailing Koerner by one shot. He tied for 10th place at the Holt Invitational with an 83. Soultner shot 86 at the Division 3 regionals in Jackson, tying for 26th place.
Reddy was a first-teamer in the MMAC, placing second at the MMAC Preseason Tournament with a 75 at Hunter’s Ridge in Howell. Reddy finished fifth in the MMAC individual standings. He carded a 96 at the Division 3 regionals at Cascades Golf Course. Reddy’s 18-hole average was 88.
Cornell-Duranleau had Corunna’s lowest 18-hole average (81.0) for the year. He shot 86 at the Division 3 regional at Cascades Golf Course, tying for 26th place.
Wicke held an 86.5 scoring average over 18 holes. Wicke placed third individually at the CMAC Championships with an 86 and was a first-team CMAC golfer. He shot 81 at the Division 3 regionals at Cascades Golf Course, good for 13th place.
New Lothrop, sophomore
Another MMAC first-team selection, Salsgiver shot 85 at the MMAC Preseason, placing fifth at Hunter’s Ridge. He also shot a 94 at the MMAC Postseason, tying for sixth. He averaged a 47 over nine holes. He placed 12th at the Division 4 regionals with a 93.
Beland was ninth in the MMAC individual rankings, good for second-team all-league. He scored 48.5 points during Cpmferemce play. He had a 95 at the Division 3 regionals.
Isaac Richardson, New Lothrop, junior
Thad Coad, Byron, junior
Jacob Johnson, Durand, freshman
Jacob Davies, Byron, senior
Josh Pickler, Corunna, senior
Calvin Collins, Laingsburg, senior
Josiah Balsley, Owosso, senior
Nathan Fowler, Chesaning, senior
Josh Wirt, Chesaning, senior
Adam Peckens, Ovid-Elsie, senior
Blake Woerner, Perry, senior
Peyton Atkinson, Durand, senior