FARIBAULT — Maren Aikens showed a few nerves early on Wednesday.
But the Rochester John Marshall sophomore quickly calmed those nerves and played the rest of the final round of the Section One, Class AAA girls golf meet with the poise of a tested veteran.
After shooting a 48 on the front nine at The Legacy Golf Club, Aikens steadied herself, played the first six holes of the back nine in 2-over par and finished the day with an 18-hole score of 89. When added with her first-round 88 from Tuesday, Aikens’ total of 177 landed her a fifth-place finish in the section meet and a berth in the Class AAA state girls golf meet, June 11-12 at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids.
“(Tuesday) she put herself in position to get to state,” JM coach Andy Ollenburg said. “She came back (Wednesday), got settled down after the first few holes and took care of it.
“She has a real competitive side to her. That came out on the back nine, and she used it to her advantage.”
Wednesday, Aikens was 9-over through five holes.
But she rallied nicely, playing the final 13 holes in 8-over, a stretch that included a birdie and six pars.
“She really put it together on the back nine and that’s what got her to state,” Ollenburg said.
Aikens is the first JM girls golfer to reach the state meet since Katie Johnson in 2011.
“The conditions were tough (Tuesday) on a course that played long,” Ollenburg said. “Maren persevered through those conditions, which was great to see. (Wednesday) the course was set up pretty much the same and she persevered through it again.”
The section-meet winning team – Lakeville North – qualifies for state, as do the top five individuals who are not on the winning team. In addition to Aikens, the individual state qualifiers are Molly Stevens of Northfield, Jessica Smith from Lakeville South, Hannah Hubert of Hastings and Sylvia Koenig from Northfield.
JM finished fourth as a team, led by Aikens. Morgan Sammon placed 15th for the Rockets (190) and Hannah Selig finished 20th (199).
SECTION 1AAA GIRLS GOLF
At Legacy Golf Club, Faribault, par 72
1. Lakeville North 345-341—686, 2. Northfield 358-348—704, 3. Lakeville South 355-360—715, 4. Rochester John Marshall 390-385—775, 5. Hastings 402-397—799, 6. Rochester Century 422-419—841.
(Top 10 and area golfers)
1. Emma Welch (LN) 77-74—151, *2. Molly Stevens (Nfld) 81-73—154, *3. Jessica Smith (LS) 84-78—162, 4. Emily Plotnik (LN) 89-83—172, *5t. Maren Aikens (JM) 88-89—177, *5t. Hannah Hubbart (Hast) 88-89—177, 7t. Ashley King (LN) 87-92—179, *7t. Syliva Koenig (Nfld) 92-87—179, 9. Julia Bevans (LS) 89-92—181, 10. Jovie Ordal (LS) 89-93—182.
15. Morgan Sammon (JM) 96-94—190, 20t. Hannah Selig (JM) 97-102—199, 24t. Shelby Leitz (RC) 101-103—204, t27. Tori Johnson (RC) 106-101—207, t29. Lisa Nakayama (RC) 108-105—213, 34t. Ava Fevold (JM) 109-108—217, 34t. Karen Coenen (RC) 107-110—217, 37. Sheridan Baker (RC) 108-110—218, 43. Kaite Coenen (RC) 108-114—222, 45. Ishika Gopal (Mayo) 114-117—231, 47. Roisin Haslam (Mayo) 112-122—234, 48. Emmy Mueller (JM) 143-116—259.
* — state individual qualifier; Lakeville North qualified as a team