Clay Kucera of Chaska Town Course won the MGA State Amateur Championship on Wednesday by one shot. He fired an even-par 72 at Somerby Golf Club in Byron, Minn., his final round for a 209 total.
Andrew Israelson and defending champion Van Holmgren tied for second at 210; both shot closing 70s. Ben Sigel, Parker Reddig and Noah Rasinski, a Gophers player, tied for fourth at 214.
Kucera got an eagle from 30 feet on the par-4 15th hole to take a one-shot lead and then parred the last three holes. He is the first alternate to win the championship since Eric Deutsch in 2004.
This is Kucera’s first big title in his career. He has had two top-five finishes in college — at College of Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif., and Iowa Western Community College — and was fourth in the Class 3A state meet in 2016 as a junior at Chaska.
“This is big for confidence,” Kucera, 20, said. “I’ve played well in some tournaments, but haven’t found myself on top of the leaderboard at the end of the day. To win in a field like this, which is full of great competition, proves that I can do that against the best players in the state.
“My swing has been close and my short game has been getting better over the last couple of weeks. It all clicked this week.”
Football star’s appeal to play denied
The executive committee of the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors has denied an appeal from Minnehaha Academy football and basketball player Craig McDonald to have his eligibility reinstated for his senior year.
A starting cornerback and wide receiver for the SMB Wolfpack’s Class 4A state champion football team and a key reserve on Minnehaha Academy’s Class 2A champion basketball team, McDonald was ruled ineligible for the 2019-20 school year because of an MSHSL by-law that limits student-athletes to 12 consecutive semesters of eligibility from seventh through 12th grade.
McDonald started kindergarten at age 4 and attended public schools through eighth grade. When he enrolled at Minnehaha Academy, his parents chose to have him retake eighth grade to give him a chance to mature. Because he repeated eighth grade, McDonald has already used up his 12 semesters of eligibility. He has verbally committed to play college football at Iowa State in 2020.
• Minnesota running backs Mohamed Ibrahim and Rodney Smith were named preseason candidates for the 2019 Doak Walker Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top college running back.
• Jessica Scott was named the Gophers’ director of women’s hockey operations. She was the head coach of the Wayzata High School girls’ hockey team the past three years.
• Addison DeBoer was named the boys’ hockey coach at Spring Lake Park High School, his alma mater.
• The St. Paul Saints lost 2-1 to the visiting Kansas City T-Bones. John Silviano singled in the first inning to drive in the Saints’ only run.