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'It brings out the best in me': Stewartville's Jannsen ready for second shot at state meet

Cole Jannsen is two weeks removed from winning the Section 1AA boys golf meet. This week, he hopes to prove he's among the best in the state, at the Class AA state meet in Jordan.

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Stewartville’s Cole Jannsen takes a shot on the 18th hole during the final day of the 2019 Class AA boys golf state tournament at Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan. Jannsen returns to state this week as a junior, hoping to challenge for all-state and medalist honors. (Post Bulletin file photo by Andrew Link)

Cole Jannsen is in the perfect spot this week.

The Stewartville High School junior is at his best on the golf course when he’s playing with and against golfers who will challenge him, shot for shot, for 18 holes.

This week, Jannsen is playing against the best in the state, and he’s looking to prove that he is among that group, maybe even right at the top of it. The Section 1AA medalist will tee off at 1:21 p.m. Tuesday at The Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, playing in a state meet for a second time, and doing so with a different level of confidence.

“Just knowing what it’s like up there, it makes it easier, I think,” said Jannsen, who played in the Class AA state meet as a freshman and would likely have gone a year ago had the COVID-19 pandemic not wiped out the season. “You can just tell that everyone there is a solid golfer. It’s really good competition.

“I like playing against guys who are better, it brings out the best in me.”

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That happened often last summer when Jannsen and his younger brother Caleb would pair up and play against Tigers teammate John Becker and their high school head coach, Dave Honsey.

“It was very competitive, they’re fun kids,” Honsey said. “Cole thrives on that (competition). The worst thing for him is if he doesn’t have that. When we play in the summer, if John and I win, it gets quiet, not a lot of joking, and I mean that as a compliment. Cole is very competitive.”

It also happened two weeks ago, when Cole Jannsen was in a group at the section meet with his closest competitors, including Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa junior Anders Larson. Jannsen shot 75-75—150 at The Bridges in Winona to edge Larson by one shot for medalist honors.

“Playing with a guy like Anders, a tremendous golfer, it definitely elevates Cole’s game a lot,” Honsey said.

Larson and his PIZM teammates pulled out a narrow five-shot victory over Stewartville to win the section team championship, but the Tigers will still send three golfers to state this week, as Cole and Caleb Jannsen both qualified, as did Becker, a sophomore.

“Cole, winning the section outright, he’s a really good player,” PIZM’s Larson said. “He’s a very stock player, as in he’ll hit the fairways and hit the greens, always. He hits a very high ball, which he benefited from (at the section meet) with it not being too windy. He can throw it high and get it to sit soft with not much spin on the greens.

“He’s a super nice kid, too, one of the nicest guys I’ve played with.”

Jannsen is also the lone golfer from Section 1 at this year’s meet with prior Class AA state meet experience. His Tigers’ teammates are first-time qualifiers, as are all six golfers on the PIZM team, and La Crescent-Hokah’s Owen Davison and Ryan Nutter, the other state qualifiers from the section.

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While Jannsen would prefer to have all of his Stewartville teammates playing this week, there is some comfort in having his brother Caleb, and Becker, playing at The Ridges, too.

“It is cool to go to state with him,” Jannsen said of Caleb, a freshman. “(I can help with) just giving him advice on holes, but mostly just telling and helping him to relax because we have nothing to lose going up there.”

His coach said Jannsen’s previous state-meet experience will be invaluable.

“I think he’ll be looking to score really well,” Honsey said. “That first year he was a little star struck. It’s a different experience, very nerve wracking. It’s slow and there’s a whole lot of things to get used to.

“That first time, it was just about trying to have a good experience. I think this time he’ll be trying to play like he did (at the section meet).”

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