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B.E. Area’s Gudahl to tee it up for MSU golf team

WAITING GAME — Blue Earth Area’s Braden Gudahl (right) chats with Buc head golf coach Travis Armstrong while waiting for Gudahl’s turn at the tee box during the 2019 Class AA state golf tournament in Jordan. Gudahl will hit the collegiate fairways for Minnesota State University-Mankato next season. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — One more member of the stellar upcoming 2021 Blue Earth Area graduating class has announced he will continue his athletic career after high school.

Braden Gudahl, a member of the Bucs’ basketball and golf teams, will join the Minnesota State University-Mankato Mavericks golf team in the spring of 2022.

“Golf, it was just always a passion for me,” Gudahl said. “I mean, I still remember back in sixth, seventh grade, I would just go to the course in the morning and I would stay until late in the evening, until it was dark, just really grinding.

“Then I saw tremendous improvements in my game. From there, I just fell in love.”

Gudahl said the biggest thing he worked on to improve his game over time was strength. He said because he has always been a small guy, he needed to get stronger to keep up with other successful golfers in the BEA program.

BEA head golf coach Travis Armstrong agreed.

“He had trouble keeping up with the kids who could hit it a long ways,” Armstrong said of Gudahl’s early years with the Bucs. “And when we went to bigger courses, longer courses, it was tough for him to kind of read some of the long par fours or even some of the long par threes. There weren’t irons in his hand. But his sophomore year, he started to grow a little bit taller and get a little stronger.”

Unfortunately for Gudahl, his junior season was cancelled in 2020, which he said might have affected his recruiting process. But more importantly, he said it took away a chance for the Bucs to realistically compete for a state championship.

The Bucs had gone to state each of the previous three years. BEA finished eighth in 2017, Gudahl’s eighth-grade season, then fifth in both 2018 and 2019.

Though the team had lost key members due to graduation in Hunter Spencer and Gavin Bruellman, Gudahl said he thought the team had a good shot to improve its position once again, but he also thought he had a chance to compete for a top individual position.

Gudahl tied for 83rd as an individual in 2017, then tied for 58th as a freshman and 38th as a sophomore.

“We’ve had such a great camaraderie with this group,” Armstrong said of the recent BEA teams’ success. “… For a long time, we had that same core group of six guys and they just had great camaraderie and you know, they kind of grew up together and they just love golf. … They’re just a great group of guys.”

Gudahl said he received offers from a number of schools, including two other Division II colleges, but the opportunity to stay close to home drew him to MSU-Mankato. He added that knowing a few people at the school helped his choice over schools where he would be heading in alone.

But most importantly, he said the academic opportunities at MSU-Mankato were what really pulled him in.

“I’m interested in something medical-related,” Gudahl said of his future career. “Maybe pre-pharmacy or nursing, something like that, I’m not entirely sure, but I’m interested in maybe becoming a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) or a pharmacist.”

He said he is looking forward to the challenge of balancing a tough academic field with the time-consuming nature of a Division II sport.

“He’ll be a great teammate at MSU,” Armstrong said. “He’s such a good kid in the classroom, too. He’s such a solid student that he’ll be able to handle the rigors of academics plus golf. … He’s challenged himself in high school academically and been a golfer and a basketball player, so I think he’s going to translate well to a good Division II golfer.”

Gudahl said while he has loved his time with the Bucs’ golf program, he is looking forward to continuing his career with new teammates and competitors. He said getting to continue using his drive to win and improve are what he is most looking forward to.

“I love competing,” Gudahl said. “I just strive to get better at the game. … I have a natural swing, like I haven’t really mechanically messed with it very much, and I just progress. It’s fun to me, when the weather gets nicer and when the snow starts to melt, I just get the urge to go out there and play and there’s nothing better.”

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