Fertile-Beltrami boys' golf wins Class A state golf title

Jacob Shames
Crookston Times
The Fertile-Beltrami boys' golf team is pictured after winning the 2019 Section 8A Championship. First and second from right are Masen Nowacki and Rylin Petry, who helped the Falcons to this year's section title along with head coach Keith Pederson (farthest right).

The rise of the Fertile-Beltrami boys' golf program has been a steady one. 

In 2018, the Falcons qualified for their first-ever state tournament, finishing sixth. They went back there in 2019 and tied for third. In 2020, they were all set for an attempt at three straight appearances, but COVID-19 meant no season and an early end to the careers of four seniors.

A young Fertile-Beltrami squad reloaded, however, and won this season's Section 8A championship. They didn't stop there.

The Falcons shot a 629 over two days of the Minnesota Class A State Tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker June 15-16, beating Legacy Christian Academy by 13 strokes to claim their first-ever state title in boys' golf.

Per the Minnesota State High School League's website, it is F-B's first team state championship in history. The Falcons were runners-up in wrestling in 1977.

Fertile-Beltrami was led by Rylin Petry, who shot a 2-over-par 146 to claim the individual state title over Brett Reid of Community Christian. Petry led after shooting a 70 on Tuesday, the best individual round of the tournament, and despite a 76 on Wednesday, hung on to edge Reid by one stroke.

Ethan Finseth finished 13th, firing a 155. Masen Nowacki finished in a tie for 15th with a 157. Derek Sorenson placed in a tie for 46th with a 173. Caiden Swenby tied for 48th by shooting a 174. Daniel Ivanov shot a 192 to tie for 74th.

The battle for the state title started out with eight teams. After Tuesday, it had shrunk to three. Fertile-Beltrami and Sleepy Eye were tied at 321, with Legacy Christian two strokes behind and no other school within 23 strokes.

But the Falcons flew away from their competition on Wednesday, even with Petry not having quite his best round. Nowacki cut five strokes off his first-round score, while Sorenson dropped 15. Swenby, while his score didn't count towards the team total, dropped 12. Finseth was consistent both days, with a 78 on Tuesday and a 77 on Wednesday.

Ultimately, Fertile-Beltrami topped the field with a 308 on Wednesday. Sleepy Eye had just the fourth-best round of the day and fell behind Legacy Christian into third place.

Everyone on the Falcons' varsity six is slated to return to defend their title next season. Petry will be a senior and Finseth will be a junior, while Ivanov, Nowacki, Sorenson and Swenby are all going into their sophomore years.

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