Freddy Thomas earns the bronze at state
Panther golfer one shot behind winners
Making his fourth appearance at the state Class AAA boys golf tournament, Lakeville North sophomore Freddy Thomas had his best finish yet, coming in third overall last week at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids.
Thomas shot 74 on the first day leaving him tied for fifth, five shots behind the leader, but the following day he played even better.
By the end of his round he closed the gap to one stroke by making six birdies.
On the 18th hole, he hit an off-line tee shot and eventually had a long putt to tie for first place. He just missed and finished with 69, putting him in third. His two-day total of 143 was 1 under par.
Ben Welle of Moorhead and Jon DuToit of Chaska both had 142 to tie for the state individual title.
Thomas tied for 28th last season, finished 53rd in 2010, and came in 42nd in 2009.
It was a little bittersweet to be there without his team.
For the first time since 2007, the Panthers fell short of qualifying for state as a team.
North was in the lead after the first round of the Section 1AAA tournament on May 30, but other teams still were within range.
In round two on June 3, an off day by the Panthers coupled with a fantastic day by Rochester Century kept Lakeville North out of state. It didn’t help that two of Century’s golfers shot career bests by several strokes.
“I guess that is golf and sports in general,” said Lakeville North assistant coach Scott Thomas, who’s also Freddy’s father. “It definitely has made the returning guys more hungry and motivated to get back to state next year.”
Although the team will lose all-conference players Joel Oxton and Trey Heid to graduation, Freddy Thomas and his brother Bobby, along with Mike Oberg and Joe Smits, are underclassmen.
The Panthers finished the year with the state’s top regular-season scoring average and were seventh in the Minnesota Golf Association rankings. Freddy Thomas was ranked No. 2 individually and Bobby Thomas finished fourth in the conference. Oberg was named all-conference and Smits was honorable mention all-conference.
Matt Ostdiek and Zac Whalen are the front-runners to fill in for the departed seniors.