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Spring Lake, Nick Krueger impress at Forest Akers West

Alec Brzezinski • Jun 9, 2019 at 9:00 PM

Forest Akers West barred its teeth Saturday, during the second round of this year’s boys Division 2 state golf finals, but Spring Lake weathered the storm to finish tied for seventh with a two-day score of 653.

The first round enticed players to fire low scores, as high temperatures, low humidity and low winds proved optimal scoring conditions. The Lakers were actually the most consistent team in the 18-team field, shooting a 326 and then a 327.

“The course had dried out quite a bit by Saturday,” said Spring Lake head coach Ben Armey. “We played a practice round on Thursday and the course was pretty spongy in the fairways and on the greens. The course stayed pretty forgiving on Friday, but by Saturday the greens had really picked up some speed.

“The pins were also consistently in the front of the green Saturday, which made it tough to attack.”

Nick Krueger followed up last year’s state runner-up finish with a t-3. He shot matching 3-over 75s to finish 6-over par for the tournament. The Grand Valley State commit had four birdies throughout the week, but an untimely triple-bogey seven on the par-4 first hole Friday ended his momentum. Still, Krueger finished his career among the most successful in Spring Lake history with yet another All-State finish this season.

“Nick played well. He had high aspirations entering the season, and entering the state finals,”Armey said. “He wanted to win his last high school match, but he took penalties one the same hole in Round 1, and it was hard for him to settle back into his round, as it would be for any golfer.”

Lakers freshman Evan McDermott shot 81-79 at Forest Akers West. After a tough opening round, McDermott found his rhythm Saturday during Round 2, threatening for All-State honors, which is awarded to any player inside the top 10. However, McDermott ended the tournament 4-over par on his last four holes to fall back in the pack. Luckily, McDermott proved this season that he has the talent to contend for a state title over the next three years.

Spring Lake’s Jack Ogden impressed Friday with an 82, and Chance Fry shot a solid 85 Saturday. Both players helped the Lakers nab a top-10 finish.

“Jack has put in some good scores (this season),” Armey said. “He has been a solid contributor, really stepping up at some crucial times.”

Forest Hills Northern won the event, spearheaded by its terrific opening-round, 8-over 296. Twins Andrew and Noah Kolar led the Huskies with rounds of 72 and 73 in Round 1. They fell back a bit Saturday, but still fired rounds of 77 and 79. In Round 1, Forest Hills Northern’s worst round was an 8-over 80. Though the team struggled Saturday, firing a 324 (620 overall), nearly 30 shots worse than Round 1, it was still enough to hold on for victory.

Forest Hills Eastern finished second at 628. Brad Smithson, a Michigan State signee, fired under-par rounds of 71 and 70 to win state finals individually. The future Spartan tore up his soon-to-be home course, highlighted by a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh on Friday.

Last year, Krueger finished runner-up to Mason’s Alex Jordan at Bedford Valley Golf Course, but Jordan shot 82-80 this year, struggling on Forest Akers West’s difficult setup.

Spring Lake battled through adversity this season. Losing a Hall of Fame coach, traveling all the way up to Gaylord for regionals, and balancing the team aspect to Krueger’s individual talent and ambitions. The Lakers did a phenomenal job on all fronts, including taming Forest Akers West and its four difficult par 3s.

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