Golf fans: Remember the names Owen Covey and Matt Mueller.
Covey and Mueller are local sophomores who left their marks on the WIAA State Boys Golf Championships on Monday and Tuesday.
Covey, of New Richmond, shot 164 in the 36-hole tournament, finishing 20 over par, which tied for 64th among the 104 players in the Division 1 tournament.
Mueller, of St. Croix Central, was 22 over par, shooting a 130 in the rain-shortened 27-hole tournament for Division 2. He finished 36th out of 52 golfers in Division 2.
Covey showed golf fans that he’s a big hitter, but his game is also developing refinement. In the 36 holes at state, Covey produced eight birdies. Five came on the opening day and three in the second round.
Covey started the opening day on the back nine and he played extremely well. He ran into some troubles in his final nine holes. His score was more balanced on Tuesday.
Covey can also say he has defeated the Division 1 state champion. When Covey won the New Richmond Division 1 sectional meet, he finished one stroke ahead of Merrill’s Russell Dettmering. It was Dettmering who shot a 137 to win the Division 1 individual state championship.
Tiger coach Neal Ziller said Covey showed his strength, by reaching several par-5 greens in two strokes.
“You can’t teach strength, but you can teach accuracy,” Ziller said. “He can really overpower that course. It was just a few holes were he had problems.”
Ziller said Covey’s work at the mental aspects of the game has been showing results and under the pressure of the state tournament, Covey stayed cool.
“I was very proud of how he carried himself,” Ziller said. “When he had a bad hole, he didn’t let it rule him. He will be a force in the coming two years.”
The same can be said for Mueller. On Tuesday, Mueller had pars on seven of his nine holes.
The rest of the Panther varsity team accompanied Mueller for the state experience. With four of the five Panthers scheduled to return next season, the goals are high for next season. Immediately upon returning from the state tournament, the Panthers went to Pheasant Hills Golf Club to play a round.
Mueller is the first Panther to compete at state since 2008, when Brad Fedie and Austin Johnson were state qualifiers.
Central coach Chris Buckel said it will take year-round dedication for the Panthers to reach the state tournament next year.
“We’ve got things to focus on if we want to get better. Rice Lake, Lakeland and Northwestern will all be good again next year,” Buckel said. “We know we’re in the hunt.”