Cecil Belisle isn’t big in stature. He is as a golfer.
The Red Wing sophomore battled windy and humid conditions to turn in the best back-to-back rounds of his young career and win the Class 2A boys’ individual state tournament title on Wednesday at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan.
Belisle finished with a 5-under-par 139, earning medalist honors by two strokes. It marked the fourth consecutive year a sophomore has figured in medalist honors.
“I’ve always played pretty well in the wind,” said Belisle, who stands 5-5 and weighs 113 pounds. “My putting was huge both days. I made a lot of clutch putts.”
He finished with a short birdie putt on the par-5, 18th hole after chipping within 3 feet, sending the Red Wing contingent into early celebration mode.
“Cecil controlled his ball nicely both days,” Red Wing coach Nate Gale said. “That’s the best I’ve seen him play. He was very steady.”
Belisle shot a 4-under 68 in Tuesday’s opening round. He shot a 34 on both the front and back side. Holy Family junior Lincoln Cizek, who also shot an opening-round 68, finished in a three-way tie for second.
“I made all of my birdie putts that were 12 feet and in,” Belisle said with a big smile. “Nothing was going to stop me.”
Belisle, making his third state tournament appearance and coming off a third-place finish a year ago, got off a similar start in the final round. He recorded a 1-under 35 on the front nine before finishing with an even-par 36 on the back side.
Blake junior Derek Hitchner, the defending individual champion, finished tied for fifth at 1 under.
“It was tough out there with the wind. There was a three- or four-club difference at times,” Hitchner said. “To finish 5 under was very impressive.”
Going out No. 1
Visitation senior Anni Heck was determined to go out as a champion. She did so with an exclamation point.
Heck shot a final-round 3-under 69 to overcome a two-stroke deficit and successfully defend the girls’ individual title she shared with Kate Smith of Detroit Lakes a year ago. She finished with an even-par 144.
“This is awesome, especially since it was my last year,” Heck said.
Heck’s short game was the biggest difference between her final round and her opening 3-over 75. She only had 12 putts on her final nine, and 27 for the day.
“I struggled putting yesterday, and today that’s what kept me in it,” Heck said. She finished three strokes ahead of Minnewaska Area senior Ashlyn Guggisberg.
The six-time state entrant knew she was in the driver’s seat when she birdied the par-3 17th hole. Heck continually was wiping off her face near the green on the final hole.
“I was anxious,” Heck said. “It was calming me down.”
Bears, Lakers repeat
Blake (boys) and Detroit Lakes (girls) successfully defended their team titles. The Bears’ championship was their third consecutive while the Lakers won their fifth crown in the past six years.
Blake finished with a two-day total of 587, 14 strokes ahead of runner-up Holy Family. It was the lowest score since four players counted toward the team score beginning in 1987.
“That was our central goal all season, a three-peat,” Hitchner said. All six of Blake’s golfers finished in the top 44.
Detroit Lakes claimed the top spot with a 649, four strokes ahead of Lake City.