WILLMAR — Brady Schwinghammer was ready to step into a bigger role for the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa boys golf team.
With three seniors in the top four, the Jaguars made the Class A state tournament for the first time last spring. The one non-senior was Schwinghammer. As a senior this season, he wanted to get back to Becker.
“I know I’d have a lot bigger role on the team this year,” Schwinghammer said. “It’s all about giving the guys confidence and letting them know they can do it and they’ll be fine.”
Under Schwinghammer’s leadership, the BBE boys are back at state. They won the Section 5A championship Wednesday with a two-day total of 703, beating Dawson-Boyd by four strokes and Community Christian School by five strokes.
Up by one stroke after Day 1, Schwinghammer wasn’t too worried about the slim margin.
“I wasn’t really that nervous; I didn’t really get nervous at all on Day 1 or 2,” he said. “If I just play my game, I know my golf’s good enough to get us to the point we need.”
That game thrived on Day 2. Starting on the back nine, Schwinghammer shot a 1-under 71, scoring birdies on holes 11, 17, 18 and 4.
“After hole 4, my 13th hole, I was like, well, I’ve never done this good up to this point yet this year,” Schwinghammer said. “Right at that point, I knew I had a good round going.”
He claimed medalist honors with a two-day score of 149. He beat Lac qui Parle Valley’s Carson Besonen, last year’s section medalist, by seven strokes.
It was the first time this season Schwinghammer had shot below par.
“We really got carried by Brady,” said fellow BBE senior Eli Gregory. “He pulled it off.”
BBE head coach Matt Goodwin was hoping Schwinghammer would shoot 75. Carding a 71 was a pleasant surprise, but nothing that Schwinghammer was incapable of.
“He’s shot really good all year long, so I think 71 was awesome,” Goodwin said.
“It’s more than what he shot today. His overall leadership has been a very key part for our team.”
Goodwin gushed over Schwinghammer’s leadership in helping the Jaguars get back into the state mix.
“I’m going to miss Brady so much next year,” Goodwin said. “Last year, he was such a big contributor. And this year, it’s not just his scores but his leadership; getting guys out to the course and making sure guys know what they’re doing.”
Schwinghammer knew this group had the skill to make it back to state after winning the Lakeview Invitational on May 9. In that meet, the Jaguars shot a 332 and won the event over host Lakeview — this season’s Section 3A champion — by one stroke.
“We shot below our average last year,” Schwinghammer said. “So right then, I was like, we have a chance if we can shoot that.”
The BBE boys are one of three area teams to clinch state spots. The Lac qui Parle Valley girls won the Section 5A championship for the fifth straight year. And in 3AA, the New London-Spicer boys repeated as section champions.
Now, BBE will try to top what it did at its state debut last spring. The Jaguars placed third with a two-day 680. Fertile-Beltrami won with 632. Duluth Marshall was second with 662.
Along with BBE, six teams have clinched spots in the Class A tournament: Fillmore Central, Lakeview, Heritage Christian Academy, Ottertail Central, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley and Fertile-Beltrami. Section 2A’s championship is set for Monday.
The Class A state championship meet takes place on June 13-14 at Pebble Creek Golf Club.
“We just got to stay locked in and don’t let anything distract you,” Schwinghammer said. “We got two more rounds this season yet to go.”