Class AA State Golf

Red Wing seniors Sophia Yoemans, left, and Leah Herzog embrace after Yoemans won her third straight state golf championship on Wednesday at The Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan. Herzog finished as the runner-up; the duo helping the Wingers win the state team championship.

JORDAN — Sophia Yoemans is accustomed to leaving the state golf meet with a gold medal around her neck.

Wednesday, she left The Ridges at Sand Creek with two.

The Red Wing senior capped one of the most remarkable high school careers in state history by winning her third consecutive individual state title and, in the process, helping to lead the Wingers to their sixth team state championship.

"When you win a (individual) state title or are runner-up, it’s fun, you’re excited, but it’s so much better when you can share something with your team," Red Wing coach Mark Herzog said. "When you can share it with your teammates, their families, communities, it’s such a rich feeling."

Yoemans shot consecutive rounds of 69 at this year’s state meet, good for a 138 total and a seven-shot victory over her teammate, best friend and state runner-up Leah Herzog.

Yoemans' championship was expected. The Wingers' team title seemed like a longer shot with nine holes left to play. They trailed Minnewaska/Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa by eight strokes at the turn on Wednesday, yet made up that entire deficit, plus one shot.

Red Wing finished at 646 as a team for 18 holes; Minnewaska/B-B-E at 647.

"We had a good team this year," Mark Herzog said. "I didn’t know if we were going to get over the top or not. My first year, 2001, we beat Eden Prairie by one stroke. This is the sixth time now and it still feels good.

"It was fun to watch."

Yoemans and Leah Herzog finished in the same positions individually a year ago in record fashion. Yoemans set state-meet records with a first-round 63 and a two-round total of 129, which made her the first golfer – boy or girl – to finish a 36-hole Minnesota state high school championship with a score of better than 130.

Herzog finished last year’s meet with a 36-hole score of 137, which tied the previous state-meet record. Yoemans broke that record approximately 15 minutes after Herzog tied it.

This time, the Wingers’ dynamic duo didn’t set records, but they didn’t need to.

Rainy, windy conditions on Tuesday caused scores to go up. The wind stayed up through much of Wednesday’s final round, as well. Yoemans and Herzog sliced through the wind; Herzog opened her final round with a 2-under par 34 on the front nine; Yoemans shot 35 on the front and 34 on the back.

That the Wingers’ top two players for the past two years finished first and second in their final high school meet was fitting; it was the way they’d finished nearly every meet throughout their junior and senior seasons. Yoemans had won a few more than Herzog last year; Herzog a few more than Yoemans this year.

Yoemans’ title added a final bullet point to a golf resume highlighted by three individual state championships and a team state title.

She competed in six state meets with the Wingers, helping them win a team championship as an eighth-grader in 2015. She placed 34th in the state as a seventh-grader, 15th as an eighth-grader and 11th as a freshman.

Yoemans won the Class AAA state championship as a sophomore, then won the Class AA state title each of the past two years.

Herzog will also go down as one of the program’s best. She was named 2019 Minnesota Miss Golf on Sunday and competed in her fifth state meet this week. She placed in the top 10 in her last three state meets, including runner-up finishes the past two years.

"Sophia has had the best career of anyone in Red Wing and maybe in the state of Minnesota," Mark Herzog said. "Leah had the best season of anyone in Minnesota, the best season anyone has had. It’s been a remarkable run by those two. They had to do a lot of golfing and competing against each other as friends … it says a lot that they can hold a friendship together when they’re competing every single round against each other."

Juniors Sydney Flack, Ashton Chandler and Grace Dube, and sophomore Ava Bremseth also chipped in with key contributions over the two-day meet. Chandler shaved nine strokes off her first-round score, going from 104 Tuesday to a 95 Wednesday.

"One shot," Mark Herzog said. "Out of 36 holes, you can find about 50 shots and we win by one shot. There were so many things the last three or four holes that helped. Leah got up-and-down from a bunker at 15 … just so many shots you can point to."

The Wingers' play highlighted a tournament dominated by Section 1 golfers, who finished in four of the top five spots. In addition to Yoemans and Herzog, La Crescent's Anna Tollefson finished fourth and Lake City's Ava Wallerich placed fifth.

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Sports Reporter

Jason has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter and columnist since 2004 and covers high school football, volleyball, softball, golf, hockey, junior hockey and auto racing. He is a 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota.