David City golf came into the state tournament on May 22 in Kearney at Meadowlark Hills Golf Course with the goal of 10th place or better. The Scouts were two spots better than that shooting a team total of 372 and finishing eighth out of 15.
David City earned its way to the middle of the field despite having three underclassmen among its group of five players.
Grand Island Central Catholic won the team title with a total of 324, edging Battle Creek by one shot.
The individual medalist award went to Preston Carbaugh of Cambridge. The senior was 3-over 74 for a two-shot win over three players who tied for second.
"I think the tournament went really well for us," said head coach Tom Van Winkle. "I thought we had a realistic chance of finishing in the top 10 of the state golf tournament and I was extremely happy with the result."
Not only did David City take eighth place, but the Scouts were fewer than 10 shots away from jumping three places higher.
"At one point, we were close," Van Winkle said. "Following the NSAA hole-by-hole score, late in the tournament, we could have gotten as high as fifth or sixth if we could have finished a little stronger, but we ended up eighth, and I think that was a realistic goal going in."
Sophomore Jordan Kracl led the team with a score of 85 and was one stroke away from a medal.
He finished in a tie for 19th.
Kracl was 7-over par after 14 holes, which would have placed him seventh if he could have parred out the rest of the way.
"As a kid who was there for the first time, it was huge to to see how he got off to a hot start and overcame some adversity as well," Van Winkle said. "He had a bad hole early on, on hole three. He then came back with an eagle on hole six. It was too bad to see him in position and then didn't finish the way that he wanted to. The last four holes weren't very kind to him."
Kracl closed with a double bogey on 15 then a triple on 16 followed by bogeys again on 17 and 18. He seemed to gain momentum with a birdie on the par-4 14th but couldn't sustain it.
Kracl led the team with three birdies and the one eagle. Will Danielson's three on hole one was the only other birdie of the tournament for David City.
He carded an 87 and tied him for 25th. Danielson was 11-over after the turn but found a rhythm on the back and shot a 5-over 40.
"Will has been a four-year varsity starter and has been a leader for us for four years," Van Winkle said. "He played 15 holes amazingly, and three specific tee shots came back and haunted him overall in his round."
After shooting 47 on the front nine, if Danielson would have parred the last hole he would have been in position for a 15th place medal. A triple bogey left him empty-handed.
"That tells you how well he played the back nine," Van Winkle said. "It says a lot of about him and his ability to come back. A lot of kids might have just mailed it in after nine holes and given up. I was proud of the way he was able to fight on and finish his high school career the way he did."
According to Van Winkle, Danielson and his two older brothers have been key to the Scouts success over the past decade.
"He's the last of three Danielsons that I've had over the last ten years," he said. "It's kind of the end of an era for me personally. All three of the Danielson boys were tremendous leaders for our program.
"We've had a pretty good run over the last 10 years and it's largely because of the three Danielson boys. Will's freshman year was right after Ben's senior year. It was good to see Will continue that and be a leader for us over the last four years."
Sophomore Keyan Helgoth shot a 97, sophomore Ethan Zegers tallied a 103 and senior Wiley Hein finished his high school golf career with a 112.
"I'm proud of Wiley for sticking with it for four years," Van Winkle said. "I don't think he played a lot of golf before he played golf as a freshman. It's awesome to see that he was able to contribute and stay with it.
He led in different ways as well. He knew his role on the golf team and had a lot of fun with the team aspect of it for four years."
Coming into the year, Van Winkle said that he didn't realize how good David City could be.
The Scouts won four meets, including a first-ever conference title, and took second at three invites including districts.
With three of the varsity players returning as juniors next year, Van Winkle said he already looking forward to the 2020 season.
"I told them all that I was proud of the run they had, but also excited for the way these three sophomores will play this summer," he said. "I love the fact that all three sophomores are out there all the time. Whenever I drive by the golf course their vehicles are always there. They love the game."
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net