DIKE - Top-ranked South Hamilton may or may not win a Class 2A state golf championship later this week, but one thing is certain - the Hawks will step onto the big stage as the favorites.
After Friday's eye-opening district performance, tabbing anyone else as the team to beat would be ridiculous.
Seniors Trevor Ullestad and Braxton Risetter - the top two ranked individuals in 2A - combined to shoot 7-under par and the team posted a season's-best 290 to win the district title by 24 shots over fellow state qualifier Denver (314) at the par-72 Fox Ridge Golf Course.
Is Fox Ridge an overly difficult course? No, it's not. Still, finishing at just 2-over par as a team says South Hamilton is ready to take the next step.
"We've always tried to get into the 290s, so to shoot 290 on the number ... I was very, very happy," South Hamilton head coach Mark Ullestad said. "Our four seniors didn't miss very many shots."
Class 3A West Delaware (299) was the only other school to shoot a sub-300 team score during districts. Panorama (313) is the closest 2A school to South Hamilton entering state.
CLASS 2A DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
At Fox Ridge Golf Course
1. South Hamilton 290; 2. *Denver 314; 3. South Winneshiek 314; 4. Waterloo Columbus 315; 5. Aplington-Parkersburg 317; 6. New Hampton 321; 7. Clarion-Goldfield 324; 8. Hampton-Dumont 334.
Individual Top 4
1. Trevor Ullestad (SH) 68; 2. Braxton Risetter (SH) 69; 3. Jalen Tranberger (Sumner-Fredericksburg) 72; 4. Trevor Schweinefus (SW) 73.
Other South Hamilton Scores
Jordan Bowers 76, Jordan Toillion 77, Colton Coy 91, Nathan Sogard 92.
Ullestad carded a 4-under 68 to nip his classmate Risetter (69) by a single shot for the individual district crown. Fellow seniors Jordan Bowers and Jordan Toillion were on top of their games as well with rounds of 76 and 77.
Flat and lacking the length and teeth of some of the other courses South Hamilton has played this season, Fox Ridge fell prey to the booming drives and solid ball striking of Trevor Ullestad and Risetter. They combined to make one eagle and 11 birdies.
"When you can hit it straight and far, golf is an easy game," Mark Ullestad said. "They can stick their irons close, too.
"We've got four seniors that don't want to be done yet. Toillion and Bowers will both really solid, too."
Risetter shot a 4-under 32 on the front 9 to take the early lead. Trevor Ullestad shot an even-par 36 on the same holes, but he came to life on the back. His final 9 32 included an eagle 2 at the 288-yard par-4 14th hole. He drove the green and then jarred the 10-foot putt.
South Winneshiek also shot a 314, but settled for third after losing the fifth score tiebreaker.
South Hamilton and the rest of the 2A state entrants will tee it up Friday and Saturday at Spring Valley Golf Course in Livermore. It's been the host of the last three state meets and has caused problems for the Hawks in the past, specifically Trevor Ullestad and Risetter.
"The kids are confident right now, but I don't think they're over-confident. I'll make sure of that," Mark Ullestad said. "We haven't necessarily taken that course to its knees in the past."
Friday's opening 18 holes will begin at noon. The final 18 holes will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday.