A resounding repeat: Lake City girls dominate Section 1AA golf meet to return to state
Lake City had the top four finishers and six of the top 12 as it breezed to the eighth girls golf section championship in program history on Wednesday. The Tigers' next stop is the state meet, where they'll attempt to defend the championship they won a year ago.
ROCHESTER — When Emma Berge looks around the driving range or putting green or the course at Lake City Golf Club during a practice, she knows two things.
One, her Lake City girls golf team is blessed with depth, perhaps the most depth in the state.
Two, if anyone in the Tigers’ lineup has an off day, there will always be someone else there to pick her up.
“It’s amazing to have that much depth,” said Berge, a junior leader for the defending state champion Tigers. “It’s good to be able to have someone to fall back on, just know that no matter how you play, someone always has your back.
“We always push each other at practice, to make everyone else around us better.”
The Tigers didn’t need to fall back on anyone over the past two days.
Their depth took over on Tuesday in the opening round of the Section 1AA girls golf meet at Northern Hills Golf Course. The Tigers didn’t let up Wednesday, either, turning a 48-stroke lead into an 89-stroke victory and a repeat as section champion.
Next up for the talented and deep Tigers: A chance to repeat as Class AA state champions at the state meet on June 14 and 15 at The Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan.
“It’s so much of a help having played there before, just the experience, it’s amazing,” said Berge, who shot rounds of 86-83–169 to finish as the section runner-up, only behind teammate Jordana Windhorst Knudsen. “Mentally, we try to approach it like it’s any other meet, but we all know that it’s not.
“The atmosphere is so fun up there, all the people and the competition. Everything about it is a blast.”
Lake City will head to state for the eighth time in program history and will seek its second state championship. The Tigers won their first state title a year ago with a 44-stroke victory over runner-up Providence Academy of Plymouth. Berge was one of four Tigers to finish in the top 20 at that meet, placing 20th. Then-senior Molly Kennedy finished 17th, Ella Matzke placed 10th as a freshman, and Windhorst Knudsen was the runner-up, also as just a freshman.
“For me, it takes the pressure levels down a lot and I know for the other girls it’s probably going to be the same way,” said Windhorst Knudsen, who fired a 36-hole total of 155 to win Section 1AA medalist honors by 14 strokes, “just because we’ve all been there, done that. We’ve gone through it, gone through the emotions.
“We’ll still go in as competitive as we were last year, but I think on the first tee, the nerves will be a little less. On the 18th green, the nerves will be a little less, too.”
The Tigers’ outstanding depth is the primary reason for that comfort level. They took the top four spots in this week’s section meet and all six of their golfers finished in the top 12. Ella Matzke placed third overall (88-82–170), Mattie Mears finished fourth (86-90–176), Brooke Bee placed eighth (89-92–181) and Kaitlin Schmidt tied for 11th (97-89–186). With that stacked lineup, Lake City’s second straight section title was never in doubt on Wednesday.
“It’s crazy knowing you have such a big lead going into (the final) round,” Berge said. “But you have to push it aside, everyone starts at zero. It’s a new day and anything can happen. You really just have to focus on the present and forget about (Tuesday).”
Bee and Schmidt’s scores would have counted for any other team in the section meet. And Morgan Wurst, who narrowly missed earning a spot in Lake City’s playoff lineup, likely would have done the same.
“We had a playoff for the top six spots,” Windhorst Knudsen said, “and it was so tight, within a few strokes. We’re all close enough where we’re rooting for each other to do the best we can. We’re all a big family — Morgan was here today supporting us; that means the world to all of us.”
While Lake City will send its six-player team to the Class AA meet, five individuals will also represent Section 1AA at state: Red Wing’s Brianna Novak, who placed fifth in the section (90-87–177); Byron’s Calie Dockter (88-90—178, sixth place); Lourdes’ Ellie Leise (95-84—179, seventh); Red Wing’s Bailie Roschen (95-87—172, ninth) and Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Alexis Knott (93-91—184, 10th place).
SECTION 1AA GIRLS GOLF
At Northern Hills G.C., par 72
(* — state-meet qualifier)
*1. Lake City 338-331—669, 2. Red Wing 396-362—758, 3. Byron 388-380—768, 4. Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa 386-383—769.
(* — state-meet individual qualifier)
1. Jordana Windhorst Knudsen (LC) 78-77—155, 2. Emma Berge (LC) 86-83—169, 3. Ella Matzke (LC) 88-82—170, 4. Mattie Mears (LC) 86-90—176, *5. Brianna Novak (RW) 90-87—177, *6. Calie Dockter (Byron) 88-90—178, *7. Ellie Leise (Lourdes) 95-84—179, 8. Brooke Bee (LC) 89-92—181, *9. Bailie Roschen (RW) 95-87—192, *10. Alexis Knott (PIZM) 93-91—184, 11t. Kaitlin Schmidt (LC) 97-89—186, 11t. Lily Sullivan (St. Charles) 91-95—186,
13. Hallie Johnson (RW) 99-90—189, 14. Anna Cylkowski (PIZM) 95-95—190, 15. Rachel Boe (Stew) 96-96—192, 16. Miranda Schroeder (Cal) 100-93—193, 17. Elenore Milde (Cal) 98-96—194, 18. Kayla Kujath (PEM) 98-97—195, 19t. Natalie Appel (Byron) 100-97—197, 19t. Olivia Cordes (PIZM) 99-98—197, 21t. Rylee Finney (Byron) 102-97—199, 21t. Isabel Higgins (Byron) 103-96—199, 23t. Lauren Howe (Stew) 101-99—200, 23t. Libby Jilek (Cal) 101-99—200, 25. Kalli Swanson (Byron) 98-103—201.