With Zach Johnson and Alex Flam in the ranks, Century has the nucleus of a good golf team. The towering question mark is the four freshmen who comprise the rest of the lineup.
Well, the freshmen contributed in a big way on Thursday, and Century took top honors in the season-opening Century-Legacy Invitational at Tom O'Leary golf course.
Johnson, a senior, claimed medalist honors with a one-over par 70 from the gold tees at O'Leary, winning by two strokes.
Flam, a junior, shared fifth place with a 75. What tipped the scales, however, was the play of freshmen Lucas Bousted and Logan Schoepp. Each carded a 79, enabling the Patriots to edge Minot 303-306.
"As four our team, I learned the younger kids are going to show up to play," CHS coach Preston Brown said. "Two of our four young kids stepped up. Had they not, we'd probably be talking about second place."
Behind CHS and Minot in top five came Mandan and St. Mary's with 325s and Bismarck with a 327. All eleven West Region teams competed.
The individual top four consisted of Johnson, Gavin Argent of Minot with a 72, and Otto Langhans of Minot and Alex Wilson of St. Mary's, who shot 74s.
Flam, Tyce Halter of Bismarck and Cole Herbel of Legacy shared fifth place with 75s.
Brown rated individual performances good for the opening outing of the spring.
"Given the time of year, I thought all the kids performed well, especially the frontrunners," he said.
Brown said the Patriots had a little bit of an edge going into Tuesday's event.
"Being able to practice here (at O'Leary) this week gave us an advantage," he noted.
What made the difference in the battle between Minot and Century was the fourth golfer. Minot's top three golfers posted a 223 to Century's 224. Lucas Bousted and Logan Schoepp posted 79s for the Patriots' third and fourth scores. Minot's No. 4, Ashton Heilman, posted an 83.
At tee-off, the temperature was a brisk 37 with a 7 mph wind. The temperature rose to 55 by the time the high school golfers were off the 5,535-yard course, but by that time the wind was whipping at 15-23 mph.
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Johnson said it was chilly on the course.
"It was cold until the last few holes. Then it was a little bit warmer. ... Toward the end of the round it got kind of windy, but that's kind of typical for spring golf," he observed.
Johnson said he was hoping to reach par on Thursday.
"I was trying to shoot par, but I left a few out there. I missed two putts that I probably should have made," he said.
After finishing his round, Johnson wasn't at all sure that his 70 would hold up for first place.
"I thought some one would come in under 70," he said.
The conditions on the course made Thursday's a test of focus and intensity, as well as skill," Johnson noted.
"The cold makes the ball go shorter, and we had to be mentally tough to grind through the round," he added.
Johnson stayed out of trouble, carding a birdie and two bogeys on the front nine and two birdies and two bogeys on the back.
"What's what I had to do today -- no big numbers," he said. "I had a couple of birdies and a couple of bogeys and that kind of balanced it out."
Next up for the West Region golf teams is the East-West Classic in Jamestown on April 26 and 27. It's the only tournament of the season where the eastern and western teams congregate on the same course.
Brown said there's work to be done before heading for Jamestown.
"We need to improve our shot game. That's priority No. 1. That has to get better," he said.