IN IT TO WIN IT

WEBSTER CITY – The courses and competition may be different, but the end games are identical.

And they involve the same hefty piece of hardware.

South Hamilton and Webster City will head in opposite directions for their respective boys’ state golf tournaments on Friday, as both go in search of their first state golf team championship.

South Hamilton will make the familiar drive north to Spring Valley Golf Course, which sits on the outskirts of Livermore, for the Class 2A meet. Webster City will take a shorter trip south to the Ames Golf and Country Club for the 3A competition.

Both tournaments will begin Friday at noon with the opening 18 holes. The final 18 holes will go off Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

Top-ranked South Hamilton and Webster City, which was ranked earlier in the spring, expect to be in the thick of the team races. The Hawks have placed in the top four at each of the past three state meets at Spring Valley; the Lynx are making their first state trip in 11 years, but they have a season’s worth of success under their belts that says they’re a contender.

“I think the boys are ready to put the tee in the ground and fire it up,” South Hamilton head coach Mark Ullestad said. “The goal is to bring home the championship.”

The Hawks will step onto the pristine course, dubbed “Little Augusta,” as the pre-tournament favorites. Senior pin seekers Trevor Ullestad and Braxton Risetter – the top ranked players in the state – also expect to contend for the individual crown. The two future college golfers shot 68 and 69, respectively, at last week’s district tournament where South Hamilton posted a 290 to win by 23 shots.

“They’re ready to rock,” Mark Ullestad said of his top two players. “We’re just trying to keep them focused and treat it like any other tournament.”

Seniors Jordan Bowers and Jordan Toillion are also expected to play key roles. Freshmen Nathan Sogard and Colton Coy complete the roster.

Spring Valley hasn’t exactly been kind to the Hawks in years past, particularly Trevor Ullestad and Risetter. Both expect to be right around par or under par every time they step to the tee, but the tricky course has pushed their scores north. Risetter tied for seventh at the 2013 state meet, but shot an 82 in the final round. Trevor Ullestad turned an 84 on Day 2 a year ago and tied for 13th.

Both players said earlier this spring their goal was to attack Spring Valley, and Mark Ullestad says that decision still stands.

“They’re going to play smart, but they’re going to be aggressive,” Mark Ullestad said. “The goal is to not play with any fear.”

A bevy of teams will present challenges to South Hamilton’s run. Panorama and PCM have both finished ahead of the Hawks at tournaments this season, Mount Vernon placed right behind the Hawks a year ago, and Fort Dodge St. Edmond and East Sac County are loaded with talent.

“With golf you’ve got to go out and battle,” Mark Ullestad said. “We want to prove to everybody and ourselves that we can play well on that course.”

Webster City probably isn’t the first team that comes to mind when talking about the 3A team title, but that doesn’t mean the Lynx need to play out of their minds to contend. Head coach Dave Brighton says his six players – twins Alec and Avery Fuhs, Logan Yates, John Ferrell, Drew Fielder and Sean Vogelbacher – just need to play their games.

“We’ve played really well all year long,” Brighton said. “We don’t have to go crazy to contend … I have confidence that all the guys will play really well.”

The Fuhs brothers were the driving forces behind the sectional and district crowns. Avery Fuhs was the sectional medalist and then Alec Fuhs took the honor at districts.

Alec Fuhs qualified for state a season ago as an individual. The brothers are also quite familiar with the Ames Golf and Country Club as past members.

“They’ve played the course a number of times,” Brighton said. “Alec and Avery have really carried us the last couple of weeks and they’re extremely focused right now.”

Joining WCHS in the field are North Central Conference members Clear Lake and Humboldt. The Lions were third a season ago and are led by returning state runner-up Dane Waldron.

Defending state champion Creston/Orient-Macksburg is also in the field and returns four players from a year ago, including state medalist Carson Whittington.

Centerville junior Alex Moorman is arguably the most talented player in the class. He won the individual state title as a freshman in 2012 and then joined Waldron as the runner-up a year ago.

Six of the 3A entrants are returning state qualifiers.