Mounds Park Academy eighth-grader Brock Bliese said he felt like a “small fish in a big pond” coming into Wednesday’s Class 1A final round at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker.
Bliese was tied for second place and playing in the final group with three seniors: 2013 champion Luke Johanson of Southwest Christian, 2012 champion Cordell Weber of Martin County West and 18-hole leader Nathaniel Kahlbaugh of Mahnomen/Waubun.
The 14-year-old, however, wasn’t intimidated.
Bliese shot a 35 on his front nine and finished his round with a 2-over-par 74 to clinch the state championship, winning by one stroke over Weber. The two were tied after 35 holes, but Bliese made an 8-foot par putt on the final hole to save par and win the title outright.
“Front nine felt like I’ve never played this well before,” he said. “I thought this could be it, this could be the year I win state.”
Bliese’s front nine featured eight consecutive pars and a 60-foot birdie chip-in on his ninth hole. He made three pars and a birdie to start the second nine before his first tough stretch of the day. That’s when three-putted on his 14th hole for a bogey and made a double bogey on his 15th.
Bliese hit the greenside bunker with his second shot on the final hole but was able to save par. Weber had an opportunity to save par from about 15 feet, but the putt lipped out.
Weber finished one stroke ahead of Murray County Central’s Adam Christensen. Mahnomen/Waubun brothers Nathaniel and Blake Kahlbaugh rounded out the top five, while Dawson-Boyd won the team title by 15 strokes over United South Central.
Southwest Christian’s Christine Piwnica overcame a 6-over-par 42 on the front nine at Pebble Creek to earn medalist honors at the Class 1A girls’ golf state tournament.
Piwnica shot a 2-over 38 on the back and an 8-over 80 for the round. The senior parred nine of her final 11 holes for a two-day total of 159 and a nine-stroke victory over Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s Abby Herding.
“She seems to have ice water in her veins,” Southwest Christian coach Dale Evans said. “Nothing bothers her. If she hits a bad shot, she shrugs it off. … A lot of girls out here, that doesn’t happen to them.”
Piwnica shot a 7-over 79 Tuesday and shared the 18-hole lead with Lauren Laffen of Sleepy Eye. She struggled early Wednesday, however, bogeying three of her first four holes and double-bogeying the par-5 fifth.
Despite the tough start, Piwnica said she stayed positive by keeping things in perspective.
“I was like, ‘It’s just a golf tournament. … It’s not the end of the world,’ ” she said. “I just went out and kind of had that mind-set and was just like, ‘It’s really not a big deal, just go play well.’ ”
The tournament marked Piwnica’s third consecutive top-10 finish at state. She finished tied for third last season and eighth in 2012.
Legacy Christian Academy won its second consecutive team title, topping BOLD by 14 strokes. Freshman Kayla Ruf led the Lions with a two-day score of 176, and junior Jillian Johnson led them Wednesday with an 85.