North Dakota

Kolpack: Best team at NDSU this fall? Men’s golf giving football its best shot – InForum

Fargo

The North Dakota State soccer team’s record 5-2 record will not draw many eyes in the final month of the regular season. Those cheers you’re hearing are from the rest of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision, an acknowledgment that the bison is returning to the pack.

My verdict on this year’s team after seven games: Good, but not outstanding. It’s hard to be great every year. Then again, this would have been Trey Lance’s final year if he hadn’t turned pro early.

Just think what if he had stayed.

One team that has yet to see anyone advance to the pro ranks is Bison Men’s Golf. It gives the soccer team a run for their money for the best program on campus.

NDSU ended its fall season with a wire-to-wire defeat of the competition in a three-day tournament hosted by Old Dominion in Powells Point, NC. The Bison won by seven strokes. Junior Nate Adams had never lagged behind the first medalists of his career.

In six tournaments, the Bison had a 57-7 record, meaning only seven teams finished ahead of them all.

“We’re driven because we know we’re all good players and a school like ours is underrated because of the weather and other factors,” Adams said. “We want to prove ourselves to all these other schools that can play year round, have more funds and stuff like that. We’re just kind of an underdog story that we don’t think we need to be underdogs. We want to go out and compete with all these guys because we know we can.”

Now in his 10th year, head coach Steve Kennedy has visions of his time coaching the Fargo South dynasty in one respect: it’s a competition just to get into the tournament roster. There are nine players in the squad but only five are traveling.

The top two finishers from the previous tournament usually receive an exception for the following event. It can be a dogfight for the other three spots.

“I think that’s our deepest team,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got nine guys who can score well and they know they have to keep playing well to make the team, so it kind of comes back to the South High days when qualifying was the hardest thing.”

There were years when South, if it had to split within the roster, would have had the top two or three teams in the state. The Bison aren’t at that point yet, but they will be starting next spring as favorites for their second Summit League title and joining the 2018 team.

NDSU won three tournaments this fall and finished in the top five in all six events. The Bison had an advantage in the opening round of the Old Dominion Tournament: it was rainy and windy.

Eight of the NDSU players are from Minnesota and Jake Skarperud is from Fargo Shanley. Weather problems don’t usually bother kids from the upper Midwest.

“A bit of bison weather,” Kennedy said.

That resulted in an 11-shot lead after day one. While other teams were concerned with the elements, NDSU players were more concerned with pars and birdies.

“I think that added very well to our strengths,” Adams said. “We warmed up in the rain and then in the middle of the front nine it really started to fall and it was windy too. If you play golf in Fargo in the fall, you’ll experience (wind) almost every day. We got used to it and got off to a good start.”

Adams, of Maple Grove, Minnesota, is the same player whose low round as a freshman was 74 and finished the pandemic-shortened season with a nearly 77-shot average. He shot 66-66-71 in the Old Dominion tournament. His average that fall was 71.3.

“When you come out of high school, it’s a big leap when you’re moving the tees back and the courses are more difficult,” Adams said. “You have to find each other a bit and I struggled in the first year, especially off the tee. It was a big change.”

To explain his improvement, which involved a lot of patience, he referred to an old quote by Lee Trevino.

“He said golf is 90 percent mental and the other 10 percent mental,” Adams said. “It’s a tough game for everyone and over the years the steady improvement has served me well and I’m proud of it.”

It’s 90%-10% psychic. You also have to be good at bison football.

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