Section 3A golf: Viking girls, Rebel boys state-bound

MARSHALL – With Camden Conference and sub-section championships already in tow, the Minneota girls’ golf team added another title to its 2013 resume: Section 3A champions.

The young Vikings, comprised of two eighth-graders, two freshmen, a junior and a senior, carded a team score of 398 at Marshall Golf Club on Wednesday to claim their first spot in the Class A state tournament. Minneota bested second-place Fulda by 12 strokes, while Adrian (416) took third and Wabasso (438) rounded out the team field.

“This is not shocking. They’re very young so their scores go up and down,” Minneota head coach Ralph Hagen said of his team. “Last year we were in second and third place to Lincoln HI and they were a strong, strong team. We were very young, so we learned.

“This year, so many of the kids were so young where we just caught a sweet spot where a younger team could rise up and do it.”

It was the two youngest Vikings who led the way to the section championship, as eighth graders Heidi Guttormsson and Charlie Josephson shot 96 and 99, respectively. Freshman Allison Bot posted a 100, while junior Megan Evers came in with a 103.

“We thought that we had six girls that could shoot 100 and that overall team balance would win it this year,” Hagen said. “We looked at the other teams and they had the same format, young and shoot around 400.

“This is pretty close to home. The kids have played here a lot, so we had a little advantage there probably.”

Minneota will be making its first trip as a team to the state tournament, held at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker on June 11-12. Hagen said that the next two weeks will serve as an opportunity for the girls to prepare for the conditions they will be facing.

“We’ll probably meet and go over all the things we need to know about,” he said. “Probably eight of the next 10 days will be practice where we’ll walk a lot of rounds. We’ll do a lot of chipping and putting. The greens there are very fast.”

The Murray County Central boys’ team, which qualified for the state meet in its first season of varsity golf in 36 years, defended its Section 3A title on Wednesday, earning a return trip to state behind a score of 331. Springfield, which won three straight section titles before MCC’s return to team competition, took second with a composite score of 369. Westbrook-Walnut Grove placed third with a score of 371, while Russell-Tyler-Ruthton finished fourth at 376.

MCC placed four individuals in the top 10 at MGC, led by Devin Erickson’s 81. Adam Christensen and Ben Loosbrock each carded 10-over 82s, while Grant Everson placed ninth individually with a total of 86.

“The boys, four of the six have been pretty solid all year for us and the five and six spots have been playing well too,” MCC head coach Kim DeLong said. “As a team they really jelled together and are looking out for each other. If one’s had a bad hole, the other picks him up. They keep grinding and they don’t give up. We came home from sub-sections and they went out and golfed another nine holes. They live and breathe golf. That’s a good thing.”

Having played at Pebble Creek a season ago, the Rebels have an idea of what to expect. DeLong said that she was impressed by how her team golfed in Marshall, but knows that they will have to really focus on putting after finishing fourth in 2012.

“They were driving alright, but it was the chipping and the putting. Putting is always the key and we need to work on those putts,” she said. “They’re going to be walking, no carts at practice, so they’ll be walking 18 until we get to state.”

Along with the Rebels, three Marshall-area individuals will be making return trips to state. Dana Madson of WWG will look to improve on his tie for 29th from 2012 after shooting a 79 at MGC. He tied Kyle Wendland of Southwestern United for medalist honors at the section meet.

Kyra Gores of Lincoln HI qualified for state for the second year in a row with a 92, but will make the trip to Becker alone this year after competing with her team in 2012.

Gores tied for 11th last year at state with Hannah Kruger, of RTR. Kruger fired an 83 on Wednesday to earn medalist honors for the section.

“A lot of things worked out pretty good,” she said. “My driver was working really well, but a thing I could’ve worked on would be my putting.”

Kruger noted that the greens sped up as the rain failed to fall, adding to the course difficulty. The RTR senior said she is ready for her final trip to the state meet.

“I’m really excited. Golfing constantly will be the biggest thing I can do (to prepare),” she said.

WWG freshman Abby Herding shot 88 on the day for second place in the girls’ meet. She will be making her first trip to state.