Leah Herzog and Sophia Yoemans have been tough to beat since they first teed up a golf ball in a high school meet, more than five years ago.

The record-breaking Red Wing seniors have one meet remaining – next week’s Class AA state tournament at the Ridges at Sand Creek, in Jordan – before they go their separate ways to play Division I college golf.

And, fittingly, Herzog and Yoemans learned Wednesday morning they are finalists for the state’s top high school award.

The long-time teammates and best friends are two of eight finalists from across the state – and from across all three classes of high school golf – for the 2019 Minnesota Miss Golf Award. The honor is given annually to the top girls high school senior golfer in the state.

Another Red Wing golfer, Cecil Belisle, is one of eight finalists for the 2019 Minnesota Mr. Golf Award.

The awards will be presented during a banquet at 7 p.m. Sunday at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence. The state tournaments are set for next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Herzog (committed to the University of Nebraska) and Yoemans (University of Missouri) have held down the top two spots in the girls golf state rankings for most of this season. Herzog, after capturing the Section 1AAA individual championship last week, is the No. 1 ranked player in the state, heading into the state meet. Yoemans is No. 2.

Those rankings are the opposite of how the duo finished at last year’s Class AA state meet. Yoemans won medalist honors by shooting a record-breaking two-round total of 129 – the first time any high school golfer, boys or girls, had broken 130 in a state meet. Herzog finished second at state a year ago with a two-round total of 137, which tied the previous two-round state-meet record.

Herzog and Yoemans are also the backbone of the No. 2-ranked Red Wing team (ranked No. 1 among Class AA schools) that has qualified for next week’s state meet. The Wingers beat rival Lake City by 20 shots at last week’s Section 1AA meet.

Section 1 is well represented on the finalists list, with half of the eight nominees coming from the section. In addition to Herzog and Yoemans, Northfield’s Molly Stevens and Lakeville South’s Jessica Smith are also finalists.

The other finalists for the 2019 Ms. Golf Award are: Emily Doeden (Park Christian), Melanie LeMinh (Wayzata), Madi McGinty (Minnewaska) and Dasha Parker (Edina).

BELISLE HEADING TO HIS FIFTH STATE MEET

Belisle will play at Minnesota State University, Mankato next school year.

The senior badly wants to finish his high school career on top, though.

He won the Section 1AA meet by five shots over runner-up Luke Alexander of Lourdes. Belisle shot a sizzling 5-under-par 67 in the opening round of the section meet and followed that with an even-par 72 in the final round, which included a uncharacteristic 3-over-par 40 on his final nine holes, when he all but had the title locked up.

Belisle, currently the No. 7-ranked boys golfer overall in the state, is the top-ranked boys player in Class AA.

He has historically played well at the state meet.

Belisle finished third at state a year ago, just two shots behind medalist Nate Deziel of East Grand Forks and one back of runner-up Derek Hitchner of Blake. Both Deziel and Hitchner graduated last year, so Belisle is the highest returning finisher in this year’s field. His third-place finish a year ago came on the heels of winning a Class AA state title as a sophomore in 2017.

Belisle placed third as a freshman in 2016, after qualifying as an eighth-grader and placing 49th in 2015.

The other 2019 Mr. Golf finalists are: Matt Armstrong (Eden Prairie), Muzzy Donohue (St. Thomas Academy), Trey Fessler (St. Michael-Albertville), Will Frazier (Eastview), Connor Glynn (Waconia), Caleb VanArragon (Blaine) and Brock Winter (Stillwater).

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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.