OAKLAND – The first day of matches at the 31st Nebraska Junior Match Play and 58th Nebraska Girls’ Match Play Championships was completed on Wednesday at Oakland Golf Club, and eight boys and four girls remain.
Three of the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals on the girls’ side, including the No. 16 seed Elly Speece of La Vista. Speece pulled off the rare upset over the No. 1 seed in the opening round, defeating the qualifying medalist Lindsey Thiele of Wahoo. Speece won the match, 4 and 3, then picked up another win over her Papillion-La Vista teammate Sydney Taake of Papillion in the quarterfinals, 2 and 1.
Speece will face Aurora’s Danica Badura, the 2019 Nebraska Girls’ Golfer of the Year. The No. 4 seeded Badura cruised in both of her matches, playing only 27 holes on the day. She won her first match 6 and 4, and then followed that up with a 6-and-5 win over Julia Karmazin of Omaha in the quarterfinals.
The No. 2 seed Emily Karmazin of Omaha won the closest match of the quarterfinals, rolling in a clutch par putt on the 18th hole to win 1 up over Katie Ruge of Omaha. She’ll play the No. 3 seed Nicole Kolbas of Lincoln tomorrow.
Kolbas played the fewest holes of the day, needing just 26 holes to win her two matches. She picked up a 5-and-4 win in the Round of 16, and then rolled to a 7-and-6 win over the defending champion Lauren Thiele of Wahoo. Kolbas made the turn at 5 up, and then chipped in for birdie on the par-3 10th hole, before closing out the match two holes later.
On the boys’ side, the No. 1 seed Isaac Heimes of Norfolk was the first one to punch his ticket to the quarterfinals after a 2-and-1 victory over Lincoln’s Jason Kolbas. Heimes won the first three holes of the match and never relinquished his lead. Heimes also won his first match 5 and 4 over Jackson Benge of Omaha.
Heimes will square off against Marcus Holling of Grand Island in the first quarterfinal match. Holling started off his day with a 4-and-3 victory over Mason Burger of Papillion. He then won an extra hole victory over Ethan Shaw of Aurora.
Another Grand Island junior named Marcus won in extra holes, with Marcus Eriksen dropping a clutch birdie putt on the second extra hole, No. 11, to win in 20 holes over Kolby Brown of Omaha. Eriksen will face York’s Reed Malleck in the quarterfinals. Malleck pulled out a 1-up win over Omaha’s Jake Boor to advance.
The defending champion Luke Gutschewski of Elkhorn rolled back into the quarters, winning his first match 6 and 4. Gutschewski won his next match 3 and 2, and will take on Omaha’s Josh Kramer in the morning.
The final quarterfinal features a couple of northeast Nebraska stars, with Norfolk’s Jake Kluver squaring up against Oakland’s Ian Lundquist. Lundquist played only 28 holes to win both of his matches, while Kluver won each of his 3 and 2.
Starting times for Thursday’s rounds have been moved up an hour, due to forecasted thunderstorms in the afternoon, with matches beginning at 7 a.m.