One-step-at-a-time approach clinches Lakers Section 8-2A championship
One hole at a time.
Although it was a philosophy which took some patience to follow through on, it worked splendidly for the Detroit Lakes girls' golf team, which played each hole with those five words in mind all season long.
In the end, it led all the way up to a Class 2A state berth.
The Lakers shot near a season-low 335 to win the Section 8-2A meet at Longbow Golf Course in Walker Tuesday and qualify as a team for the Class 2A state meet, June 16-17.
"I think it's safe to say we can make state now," said a smiling DL coach Cali Harrier, who was preaching the one-hole-at-a-time belief all season, and a cautiously optimistic attitude to go with it.
The Lakers won their third section championship since 2006 with one of the youngest lineups in the state -- including four eighth graders, a seventh grader and one sophomore on the section roster.
One of those eighth graders, Trisa Hutchinson, had perfect timing to posting her all-time career low score, when she carded a six-over par 78 to finish third in the section.
The elder member of the team, sophomore Courtney Hedstrom, finished with an 80, while eighth grader Matty Tschider stroked an 82 and eighth grader Natalie Roth capped DL's scoring with a 95.
The fourth eighth grader in the Laker lineup, Emma Thompson, finished with a 97 and seventh grader Sydney Busker carded a 113.
"We just kept telling them to keep doing what they have been doing and that's taking it one hole at a time," said DL head coach Jen Hendrickson, who has been helping coach the team with Harrier the last several weeks while on maternal leave. "They just had to keep playing their game."
Being so young could have also worked in DL's favor, not against them.
"We are peaking at the right time," Hedstrom said. "It's just unreal (winning section), because we are so young. But I think they are so young, they don't realize how big this is and didn't play with a lot of pressure."
Hendrickson also didn't have a firm grasp on how the younger players would handle the pressure of a section meet.
"I really didn't know how they would respond, but our top three golfers out there today were really on a mission," Hendrickson said.
Hutchinson's day started well, which was a key to settling her nerves early as she stroked in two birdies on the day.
"My driver was good and I was just playing smart," Hutchinson said. "I was able to read the greens better, too, and putt pretty well."
Hutchinson had 34 putts on the day, which was significantly better than the first time the Lakers played Longbow a couple of weeks ago, when they struggled with the big greens.
Another reason for the infallible play by a roster full of junior high players was not worrying about what the other teams were doing.
"We realized we didn't have to come in and have a perfect score, just that everyone go out and play their game," Hutchinson said. "I've never felt like this before in my life. I'm just speechless."
For Hedstrom, her putting could have been better, but her striking game kept her in each hole.
As the only player who played on the Class 2A third-place state team from two years ago, Hedstrom showed that experience when she drained a 12-foot birdie putt on the final 18th hole.
"I knew we were doing well as a team, I just wanted to finish strong," Hedstrom said.
That she did, as Tschider's 82, DL's third lowest score, put the Lakers firmly in the driver's seat.
"The scores have just improved all season long," Harrier said. "We started the season with a 392 and it has just gotten better from there. This is a very mature group of middle school girls, and I believe they never felt that pressure."
Perham junior Holly Karkela won medalist honors after shooting a two-over par 74, while the Yellowjackets finished second as a team with a 350.
The Class 2A state meet will be held Wednesday and Thursday, June 16-17, at The Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan.
The Laker girls will tee off Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., while the DL boys -- who also won their section meet -- will start at 11:40 a.m.
Section 8-2A meet at Longbow Golf Course in Walker, Tuesday, June 1.
Team results (*state qualifier) -- *Detroit Lakes 335, Perham 350, Crookston 353, Roseau 356, Pelican Rapids 373, East Grand Forks 374.
Individual state qualifiers -- Medalist: Holly Karkela (Perham) 74; Monica Wold (Crookston) 77, Trisa Hutchinson (DL) 78, Courtney Hedstrom (DL) 80, Abby Ness (Roseau) 81, Matty Tschider (DL) 82, Kaylen Huber (Perham) 83, Emily Hallie (Roseau) 83.
DL results -- 3. Hutchinson 78; 4. Hedstrom 80; 6. Tschider 82; Natalie Roth 95, Emma Thompson 97, Sydney Busker 113.