For the first time since 2014, the Carlton Crusaders men’s golf team is the best in the provincial high school ranks.
After finishing second at the 2017 tournament in Estevan, the Crusaders finished one spot higher on the podium Saturday in North Battleford as they topped the two-time defending Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association champion Estevan Elecs by two strokes.
“We finished well back of Estevan on their home course last year, so to go to North Battleford and take a four-shot lead after the first round Friday was exciting,” Crusaders coach Taryn Rieger said.
“We had a really good group of golfers who pushed each other to be better, and I think that was really important with how the final round went on Saturday. With so many good golfers on our team and Estevan’s, you really didn’t know how it would end up.”
TJ Baker, Cole Jenkins and Ben Zultok were all back from last year’s silver medal winning side, while Cody Huntley joined the lineup as he replaced Bryce Ahenakew.
“It’s a pretty nice feeling to win this year after not being able to pull it off a year ago,” Jenkins said. “Our weekend was better from top to bottom this time around.
“I think everyone was pretty much on their game right from the start. We all knew what to expect going into a provincial championship, so we all felt pretty confident that we would have a chance to win the gold.”
The only thing that the team may not have been prepared for was dealing with snowy conditions in the first round of play Friday.
“The last few holes were really tough for everyone out there,” Jenkins said.
“You were trying to find your ball as soon as you shot it, and then you had to deal with the ice and snow sticking to the bottom of your shoes.
“We were all just trying to play it safe out there and not fall while making our shots.”
Jenkins also turned in a strong showing in the individual event as he captured the bronze medal with a two-day total score of 157.
He finished three shots back of gold medalist Estevan’s Jace Carlisle and two shots behind Carlisle’s teammate Chase Gedak.
“It was a really good time competing against those guys,” Jenkins said. “We all know each other from other tournaments around the province, so we’ve become pretty good friends.”
Jenkins was one of four Prince Albert golfers to finish in the top ten Saturday.
Baker finished in fifth, with Noah Parent of St. Mary and Zultok were right behind him in the standings.
Huntley wrapped up the tournament in 42nd spot.
There were no Prince Albert golfers in the female event, which was won by Lauren Fox of Creighton.
The Assiniboia Rockets won the team title.
As the Crusaders get ready for next year, they will be welcoming two new golfers to their competitive team as Huntley and Zultok are both graduating.
“Before the districts we had around nine boys who had signed up to be competitive golfers, so we actually had a playoff to see who would be on our main team for the provincial tournament,” Rieger said. “We expect to have some of those golfers back with us next year.
“Obviously we’re going to miss having Ben and Cody around, but we’re expecting Cole and TJ to step in and take over the leadership role.”