A finish like Oshkosh North put together at the WIAA Division 1 regional golf meet on Tuesday was the sort that could inspire a person to do some back flips.
The Spartans’ Paul Christman did his Ozzie Smith-like routine on the grass outside the clubhouse at Westhaven Golf Course after North shot a 325 and edged out Kimberly and Oshkosh West for the final sectional qualifying spot.
“It feels amazing,” sophomore Nick Bauer said. “It was unexpected. It’s our home course, but we had to shoot a low number today because there are a lot of good teams out there.”
The Spartans, who shot 364 just three days ago at the Fox Valley Association tournament, finished one shot ahead of the Papermakers and three ahead of the Wildcats for the fourth place team finish.
North advances to next Tuesday sectional meet at Pine Hills Golf Course near Sheboygan.
“I was thinking maybe you had to shooter better than 325 to move on,” North coach Dan Dunn said. “But 325 was about where I would say that it was our best. Today it happened to be one shot good enough.”
Christman, who tied for medalist honors with West’s Logan Handy and Neenah’s Brad Veldhorst, was the key for the Spartans.
Not just because his round of 73 led the team, but also because of his mental toughness.
Christman hit two balls out of bounds and took a 9 on the par-4 16th hole. Yet, instead of letting the bad hole affect him, he finished his round with a pair of birdies — two shots that ended up that ended up being huge.
“He takes chances and he realizes the possibility that he’s going to have a bad hole, but he always knows he can come back and pick it up and that next couple of holes and that’s exactly what he did,” Dunn said. “To follow up that nine with two birdies to finish it off was impressive and more than that, we needed it.”
Christman said it was his putting that made the difference in his co-medalist round.
“My putting definitely helped me out a lot today,” Christman said. “My chipping and putting (was working) and I figured out my short irons. I was hitting them pretty close to the pins and making putts.”
Bauer backed Christman with a 79, while Ben Jaeger — who missed the FVA tournament — with an 85 and Brandon Nimke with an 88 rounded out the Spartans scorers.
And it was enough to get North onto sectionals — just barely.
“Our team played well today. I look forward to sectionals and seeing how we do as a team,” Christman said. “We never thought we would have a chance, but we all broke through and I guess we’re on to sectionals.
“We really had no gameplan,. We just went out and played and I guess it worked.”
The Wildcats will also be represented at the sectional meet by a pair of individuals and Handy and Wyatt Stickney earned two if the four individual qualifying spots.
Handy shot his 73 despite some struggles on the putting green.
“The putting was a little rough, but I hit a lot of greens in regulation,” Handy said. “(My round) feels pretty good. I got a lot of confidence out of it.”
Stickney finished in the top 10 with a 78
Still, it wasn’t enough to get the Wildcats where they were really hoping to go — sectionals.
“I think it would have been a lot more fun to everyone there,” Handy said.
WIAA Division 1 Regional
At Westhaven GC, par 72
Team scores (top four advance to sectionals): Neenah 306, Fond du Lac 318, Kaukauna 319, Oshkosh North 325, Kimberly 326, Oshkosh West 328, West De Pere 336, Menasha 367
Co-medalists: Paul Christman (ON), Logan Handy (OW) and Brad Veldhorst (NEE), 73.
Individual sectional qualifiers: Handy; Matt Weber (KIM); Jonah Buss (KIM); Wyatt Stickney (OW).
ON golfers: Paul Christman 73, Nick Bauer 79, Ben Jaeger 85, Brandon Nimke 88.
OW golfers: Logan Handy 73, Wyatt Stickney 73, Jacob Christopherson 88, Jacob Becker 89.