Lake City battles elements, expectations to win second straight state championship
The Lake City girls golf team breezed to the Class AA state golf championship this week. The Tigers toughest opponents at the Ridges at Sand Creek turned out to be the weather and their own lofty expectations.
JORDAN — It turns out that the toughest opponents for the Lake City girls golf team this week — and perhaps all season — were the weather and its own high expectations.
It's not that the Tigers played against poor competition, they just happened to have some of the best golfers in the state, all collected on one team.
After rolling to the program's first state championship a year ago, the Tigers were heavy favorites to repeat entering this week's Class AA state meet at the Ridges at Sand Creek.
And repeat they did — emphatically.
The Tigers blew away the field, winning the weather-shortened 27-hole event by 39 strokes over runner-up Fergus Falls, with a team total of 491. Fergus Falls finished at 530.
Lake City's second title didn't come easily, if for no other reason than the roller coaster they — and everyone else in the 88-golfer field — had to ride for two days.
The girls state meet drew the afternoon tee times this year, meaning the entire field teed off between noon and 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, playing 6-to-7-hour rounds at the hottest point of the day, when the temperature reached the mid-to-high 90s.
Lake City fought its way to a team score of 330 in Round 1, which was good for a 27-shot lead over second-place Fergus Falls after one round.
When rain storms hit early Wednesday afternoon and pushed the girls' tee times back by nearly three hours — causing the meet to be shortened from 36 holes to 27 holes — it was evident that the Tigers wouldn't be caught. It was too much ground for any team to overcome with just nine holes to play.
Lake City didn't ease up, though.
Sophomores Ella Matzke and Jordana Windhorst Knudsen finished Round 1 in the top 10 and with designs on playing their way to the top of the leaderboard.
Junior Emma Berge sat just outside the top 10, in 12th place, after 18 holes, and was determined to work her way into the top 10 by the end of the meet. Likewise for junior Brooke Bee, who was just two shots outside of the top 10 going into the final nine holes.
In other words, the Tigers had plenty to play for — all while understanding the common goal: Win a second straight team championship.
Matzke kept her foot on the gas, shooting a 38 Wednesday to finish at 117, three shots back of state medalist Mallory Belka from Perham. Windhorst Knudsen and Berge tied for 11th (123) and Bee tied for 19th (128).
Prior to last season, winning a state title was a goal that coach Steve Randgaard wasn't sure would ever be accomplished. He has had many, many talented teams — teams fully capable of winning state championships — who were derailed by outstanding teams from Caledonia or Red Wing or other Section 1 schools, or state powers such as Detroit Lakes.
But the Tigers got a taste of that title a year ago, and they weren't about to let a second one get away.
Their depth was evident, as their fifth and sixth golfers finished in the top 51; junior Kaitlin Schmidt tied for 41st (139) and freshman Mattie Mears tied for 51st (142).
Other Section 1AA golfers had outstanding performances at the state meet, too, including: Lourdes sophomore Red Wing senior Brianna Novak (25th, 132), Ellie Leise (30th, 133), Byron sophomore Calie Dockter (37th, 138), Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa senior Alexis Knott (47th, 141) and Red Wing senior Bailie Roschen (53rd, 143).
Falcons place 4th in A
BECKER — Section 1A girls golf champion Fillmore Central finished in the top-half of the Class A state meet, placing fourth with a 36-hole total of 778. The Falcons trailed only state champion Legacy Christian Academy (716), runner-up Lac qui Parle Valley (723) and Park Christian (741).
Fillmore Central junior Courtney Hershberger made a strong push up the leaderboard, too, in the final round.
Hershberger, the Section 1A medalist, shaved nine strokes off her opening-round 91, firing an 82 in Wednesday's final round to finish at 173 overall, good for third in the state. She finished behind only Emily Brandt of Legacy Christian (81-84—165) and Kianna Johnson of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (85-81—166).
Hershberger shot the second-best round of the day on Wednesday, her 82 finishing just behind Johnson's 81. Hershberger made two birdies and seven pars in her final round of the meet.
No other golfer from Section 1A placed in the top 40.
At Pebble Creek Golf Course, Becker (par 72)
1. Legacy Christian Academy 354-362—716, 2. Lac qui Parle Valley 354-369—723, 3. Park Christian 368-373—741, 4. Fillmore Central 393-385—778, 5. North Woods 395-396—791, 6. Fertile-Beltrami 410-418—828, 7. Murray Co. Central 450-417—867, 8. Sleepy Eye United 446-429—875.
(Top 5, area golfers)
1. Emily Brandt (LCA) 81-84—165, 2. Kianna Johnson (W-H-A) 85-81—166, 3. Courtney Hershberger (FC) 91-82—173, 4t. Adysen Tisdal (Ottertail Cent.) 89-85—174, 4t. Alyssa Maurer (Benson) 87-87—174, 4t. Madison Doeden (P.C.) 88-86—174, 4t. Sarah Halvorson (LPV) 87-87—174,
41t. Marissa Topness (FC) 101-101—202, 45t. Aubrey Larson (FC) 101-103—204, 47t. Myleigh Scheevel (FC) 100-105—205, 55t. Chloe Morem (FC) 109-99—208, 56. Annika Mensink (FC) 106-103—209, 58t. Avery Towey (Hayfield) 105-107—212, 58t. Kristen Watson (Hayfield) 111-101—212, 63. Chloe Schnebly (Lanesboro) 114-99—213, 64. Rachel Smith (WK) 110-105—215, 71. Carly Bronson (Hayfield) 107-114—221.
At the Ridges at Sand Creek, Jordan (par 72)
1. Lake City 330-161—491, 2. Fergus Falls 357-173—530, 3. Pequot Lakes 362-173—535, 4. Minnewaska Area 366-173—539, 5. Providence Academy 362-186—548, 6. St. Croix Lutheran 382-182—564, 7. Jordan 397-185—582, 8. Mesabi East 401-203—604.
(Top 5, area golfers)
1. Mallory Belka (Perham) 76-38—114, 2. Ella Matzke (LC) 79-38—117, 3. Anna Eckmann (Park Rapids) 79-40—119, 4t. Genevieve Birkeland (PL) 80-40—120, 4t. Julian Brown (Redwood Valley) 78-42—120, 4t. Victoria Woytassek (Jordan) 81-39—120,
11t. Jordana Windhorst Knudsen (LC) 82-41—123, 11t. Emma Berge (LC) 84-39—123, 19t. Brooke Bee (LC) 85-43—128, 25t. Brianna Novak (Red Wing) 90-42—132, 30t. Ellie Leise (Lourdes) 86-47—133, 37t. Calie Dockter (Byron) 90-48—138, 41t. Kaitlin Schmidt (LC) 95-44—139, 47t. Alexis Knott (PIZM) 93-48—141, 51t. Mattie Mears (LC) 94-48—142, 53t. Bailie Roschen (Red Wing) 94-49—143