REDWOOD FALLS - Blessed with a rare day of fair weather this spring, golfers didn't seem to know what to do with themselves Thursday during the 3A-North sub-section tournament at Redwood Falls Golf Club.
Just three of 44 golfers in the boys' competition cracked 90 and only four of 36 girls broke 100 on a sunny, breezy day that saw temperatures climb into the mid-60s.
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton senior Hannah Kruger was one of the few players who took advantage of nice weather, tying Springfield's Christopher Kretsch for the best round of the day, boy or girl, with a 14-over 84 on the par-70 course. She posted a 39 on the back nine, her first nine holes, before wrapping up her round with a 45 on the front.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Minneota senior Alyssa Engler watches her tee shot on the par-4 first hole at Redwood Falls Golf Club during Thursday’s 3A-North sub-section golf tournament. Engler finished fifth individually with a round of 102 to help the Vikings win the sub-section title and qualify for Wednesday’s Section 3A tournament at Marshall Golf Club.
Kruger finished seven strokes clear of runner-up Kyra Gores of Lincoln HI to defend her individual sub-section title. She said some of the course conditions presented a tough challenge to the players and may have been what led to the high scores.
"I think the greens were a big problem, probably the biggest problem, and there were some wet spots out there from the rain from the past few days. The greens were really fast for the most part," said Kruger, who tied for 11th at the Class A state tournament with Gores last year. "Keeping it in the fairway, that was the biggest thing for me. If you get in that rough, you're probably going to chunk it out of there because there's no way you're going to get it out of there cleanly."
In the girls' team competition, Minneota emerged as the champion in the field of six squads with a score of 428. Last year a senior-laden Lincoln HI team won the sub-section on the same course with a 383 in heavy rains.
The Vikings don't have nearly as much experience as that Lincoln HI team, sporting a senior, a junior, two freshmen and two eighth-graders. Alyssa Engler is the lone senior on the Minneota squad and led the Vikings with a 102. She was excited to have her team advance to Wednesday's Section 3A tournament in Marshall, no matter the score.
"We knew Lincoln HI had lost a lot of good seniors so we knew we had a good chance and we came through. I'm very proud of our girls. They played very well," Engler said.
Minneota was coming off a win in the Camden Conference Championships the previous week at Marshall Golf Club. The success for the young squad continued Thursday and Engler hopes it can carry over for at least one more tournament and get the Vikings to state.
"We have to play well as a team, we have to get out there and practice and keep everything going the way it's been going and I'm hoping that the younger girls will not get nervous," Engler said. "I was a seventh-grader when I first did sub-sections and I was nervous, very nervous, so I know where they're coming from. You just have to try to truck through and we'll do as well as we can."
Eighth-grader Heidi Guttormsson finished second on the team with a 103, while junior Megan Evers (111) and freshman Rachel Knutson (112) rounded out the top four scores.
Wabasso gave the Vikings a strong push, finishing five strokes back with a 433. They held off Tomahawk Conference rival Springfield by four strokes to sneak into the second qualifying spot for the section tournament for the second straight year.
Senior Briana Jenniges, a sixth-year varsity player, led the Rabbits with a 97 to finish third individually. Jenna Henriksen added a 105 and Brooklyn Maasch and Kendra Haase shot 115 and 116, respectively.
"Briana came through with a really good score in the 90s and Jenna came through with a 105, that was big," Wabasso head coach Dave Blank said. "A couple of kids didn't have a very good back nine to start out, but they came in and had a solid front side. That was the key.
"I'm really proud of them. We've been behind Springfield by three to five strokes all year so I knew we had a chance to catch them, I knew we were within striking distance and we finally got ahead of them today."
Several individuals will also advance to next week's section tournament, including Gores and Marshall-area golfers Annika Anderson of Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (112) and Whitney Fischer of Lakeview (114).
The top three boys' teams finished in the same order as they did at last year's sub-section meet. Springfield won the team title for the fourth year in a row with a 354 and will advance to sections along with runner-up RTR, which was 23 strokes back. Lincoln HI placed third with a 384.
Though it finished in the same spot, the RTR team looks a lot different than it did a season ago. The Knights had to replace their top four players from last year and they only have a on senior on the varsity roster.
Despite the turnover, RTR head coach Darin Dahle said he felt his team still had a shot to be in the mix.
"Just looking throughout the year I knew Springfield was probably going to be the team to beat, but then from there it was kind of up in the air," Dahle said. "TMB had beaten us earlier in the year and Lincoln HI was right there. It was a little bit of a surprise but we knew we would have a chance if we played well. I don't know if I'd say we played it all well, but well enough."
Freshman Jeremy Alsaker led the Knights with a 90, juniors Derrick Whiting and Hunter Burns each shot a 93, and junior Nathan VanDrunen came in with a 101.
Last year's sub-section medalist, Jeff Gladis of Lincoln HI, was in good position to defend his title after shooting a 41 on his front nine to lead the boys' field, but a big number on the par-4 10th tripped him up and he finished with an 88, which was still good enough for third place overall.
"I started off really well with my irons; I didn't use my driver at all today," Gladis said. "My putting was good and my short game was working really well on the front nine. On the back nine I started off with a nine on 10 and then I struggled a little bit over the next couple of holes before I put it back together and got a couple of pars."
Gladis will be joined at sections by teammates Trysten Studemann (94) and Jonathon Piehl (95), who also qualified as individuals.
Other individual section qualifiers from the area were TMB's Devin Skalak (90) and Joey Felt (92), Lakeview's Hunter Kvistad (100) and Taylor Pickthorn (100), Wabasso's Kyle Campbell (96) and Hendricks' Kolbe Frank (99).
Girls' Team Scores: 1. Minneota 428*, 2. Wabasso 433*, 3. Springfield 437, 4. Lincoln HI 480, 5. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 501, 6. Lakeview 509. Incomplete: Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Hendricks.
* denotes section-qualifying team
Top 10 Individuals: 1. Hannah Kruger (RTR) 84, 2. Kyra Gores (LHI) 91, 3. Brianna Jenniges (WAB) 97, 4. Callie Wersal (SFD) 99, 5. Alyssa Engler (MIN) 102, 6. Heidi Guttormsson (MIN) 103, 7. Shelby Schultz (SFD) 105, 8. Jenna Henriksen (TMB) 105, 9. Megan Evers (MIN) 111, 10. Annika Anderson (TMB) 112.
Hendricks: Desiree Scotting 136.
Lakeview: Whitney Fischer 114*, Briatta Buntjer 125, 131 Hailey Penske 131, Mikenna Radke 139.
Lincoln HI: Kyra Gores 91*, Maranda Jerzak 124, Kira Gifford 132, Allison Citterman 133.
Minneota: Alyssa Engler 102, Heidi Guttormsson 103, Megan Evers 111, Rachel Knutson 112.
RTR: Hannah Kruger 84*, Danielle Blanchette 123, Sarah Stanek 124.
Springfield: Callie Wersal 99, Shelby Schultz 105, Jena Roiger 114*, Amanda Rogotzke 119.
TMB: Annika Anderson 112,*, Morgan Anderson 118, Morgan Benson 132, Emily Crumrine 139.
Wabasso: Briana Jenniges 97, Jenna Henriksen 105, Brooklyn Maasch 115, Kendra Haase 116.
*denotes section-qualifying individual
Boys' Team Scores: 1. Springfield 354*, 2. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 377*, 3. Lincoln HI 384, 4. Lakeview 409, 5. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 394, 6. Wabasso 433, 7. Minneota 439. Incomplete: Hendricks.
* denotes section-qualifying team
Top 10 Individuals: 1. Christopher Kretsch (SFD) 84, 2. Taylor Frank (SFD) 86, 3. Jeff Gladis (LHI) 88, t-4. Devin Skalak (TMB) 90, t-4. Jeremy Alsaker (RTR) 90, 6. Kale Meendering (SFD) 91, 7. Joey Felt (TMB) 92, t-8. Derrick Whiting (RTR) 93, t-8. Hunter Burns 93, t-8. Andrew Salonek (SFD) 93.
Hendricks: Kolbe Frank 99*, Tyson Frank 110, Devin Ward 147.
Lakeview: Taylor Pickthorn 100*, Hunter Kvistad 100*, Quinn Fenger 104, Thomas Geihl 105.
Lincoln HI: Jeff Gladis 88*, Trysten Studemann 94*, Jonathon Piehl 95*, Ryan Twedt 107.
Minneota: Cole Hennen 103, Kyle Hennen 108, Leo Buysse 110, Kolin Drietz 118.
RTR: Jeremy Alsaker 90, Hunter Burns 93, Derrick Whiting 93, Nathan VanDrunen 101.
Springfield: Christopher Kretsch 84, Taylor Frank 86, Kale Meendering 91, Andrew Salonek 93.
TMB: Devin Skalak 90*, Joey Felt 92*, Rick Jorgenson 106, Mark Desmith 106.
Wabasso: Kyle Campbell 96*, Chase Haase 101, Shawn Zollner 118, Talon Irlbeck 118.
* denotes section-qualifying individual