Career bests help Bluejays shoot lowest round of season

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Noah Wilkening starts his drive on the fifth tee at the Woodward Golf Club April 14.

WINTERSET — Senior Kade VanKirk and sophomore Connor Nielsen had the best nine-hole scores of their prep career Thursday to help guide Perry to a season-low score of 160 in a triangular at Lakeside Golf Course.

Teams can play up to six golfers for varsity consideration, with the four lowest totals used to determine the overall score. That was the rub for the Jays, as a season-low 36 from Noah Wilkening and the 37 carded by VanKirk, along with Nielsen’s 40, had Perry looking like a winner at 113.

Perry head coach Nick Field has waited all season for others to drop their scores closer to Wilkening’s usual effort, but on Thursday a fourth score of 47 — taken from either Ryan Rathje or Tanner Darr — still left the Jays one stroke short of a win, as Newton shot a 159 to Perry’s 160. Host Winterset was another seven shots back, at 167.

“We had a breakthrough round today,” Field said. “Noah had a great round again, but he got a little help with Kade’s 37 and Connor’s 40. If we had a fourth score today it would be the best round that we had in a long time.”

While disappointed in not taking the overall win, Field was pleased with the play of his team, and continues to believe all scores will come down as the year continues to progress.

Meet medalist Wilkening had four pars and offset three bogeys with two birdies to shoot his one-over 36, with runner-up medalist VanKirk recording five pars and a birdie while avoiding major damage with only three bogeys. Nielsen’s round was more hit-and-miss, as he had only two pars and posted three bogeys. Two double-bogeys would have caused additional damage, but two clutch birdies dropped his score to 40.

Luke Rathje’s 56 was the sixth varsity card for Perry and was not used for the total score.

Newton had three players shoot in the 30’s as Austin Reynolds fired a 38 and Peyton Thomas and Trey Vanderlaan a pair of 39s. Derek Damman’s 43 capped the Cardinal scoring.

Winterset counted rounds of 41 from both Layne Kincade and Ty Gilliland, with Cory Spillman shooting a 42 and Chase Van Werden a 43.

Perry and Winterset also sent six players each onto the links for junior varsity action, with the Huskies posting a 194-217 victory.

Tanner Duffy (48), Brody Kimrey (55), Devin Patrick (55) and Tyler Soll (59) scored for the Perry JV, with Justin Stammer (66) and Gabe Ridnour (66) also on the course.

Perry will host the 18-hole Bluejay Invitational Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and will join the Jayettes for the annual Witmer-Dunphy Coed Invite Monday at 4 p.m.

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