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Laker girls' golf team paving road to 2nd straight state title

Laker junior Natalie Roth shoots off the fairway Tuesday during the Class 2A state meet at the Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan. Roth shot a meet low two-under par 70.

Although the Detroit Lakes girls’ golf team made a swath through its competition this past season, they saved their best for when it counts, during the Class 2A state meet at The Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan Tuesday.

The Lakers came out swinging on all cylinders and claimed a 19-stroke lead over Minnewaska by carding a new DLHS record of 297.

Ironically, DL just missed the all-time Minnesota record by one stroke, which is held by Minnewaska, which shot a second-place 316 Tuesday in the first round.

“Yeah, 296 is definitely still one of our goals,” said junior Natalie Roth, who leads the meet after shooting a two-under par 70.

But first things first for the Lakers, and that’s winning their second-straight Class 2A state championship, which looks to be well in hand after their 297.  

The 2012 state individual champion freshman Kate Smith looked to be back on track after a sub-par Section 8-2A meet forced her to play as the Lakers’ No. 5 golfer for the opening round of the state meet.

The Lakers again had four of their counted scores under 80, the seventh time that has happened this season, which included Roth’s 70, Smith’s 72, junior Trisa Hutchinson’s 77 and sophomore Sydney Busker’s 78.

Junior Emma Thompson carded an 83 and Section 8-2A medalist junior Matty Tschider finished with an 84.

Smith came out a bit rugged, but a birdie on hole five settled her in, which led to 36-36 for an even par 72, two strokes behind teammate Roth.

“I got on a par train there for a while on holes nine through 14,” Smith said. “I had a lot of two-putts, which led to pars, so I can’t complain.”

After shooting a team fifth-best 82 in the Section 8-2A meet, Smith was quite motivated to get back in the swing of things and she did just that, as she is in contention for her second state individual title as just a freshman.

“Kate was definitely motivated to bounce back,” said DL head coach Cali Harrier. “She is that type of player, even though she was golfing in the fifth group, Kate is just going to go out and play golf.”

After breaking out during the 2012 season, Roth was one of DL’s most consistent golfers through the 2013 season on a team full of talent players.

She came into the state meet focused and set some goals to pace her through her first-day round, in which she shot a 37 on the front nine, then broke out for a three-under par 33 on the back.

“My main goal on the front nine was to stay steady and shoot a 36 and I was a little bit off with a 37,” Roth said. “Then I started with two birdies on 10 and 11 and it just kind of happened that I started shooting well.”

Roth capped her round with a 12-foot birdie putt on hole 18 to put her in the lead, two strokes ahead of teammate Smith, who holds second place alone by two strokes.

With the team championship first and foremost on the goal list, the individual medalist honor is still up for grabs between the two teammates, as well as Hannah Peterson of Marshall, who has a 74.

“Being (individual) state champion has been my goal since I’ve started playing golf,” Roth said. “I think everyone on our team is thinking of shooting a good individual score and if that happens, the team score will not be a problem.”

Smith also has her sites to repeat as state team and individual champion, but has team first and foremost.

“We all want to do well individually, which will keep the team success going,” Smith said.

The depth of the Lakers was also on full display, with Busker shooting a season-low 78 as the No. 6 golfer.

Busker’s score was key, since she was one of the top four scores as the sixth golfer, which is no insult on this Laker team.

“I started with a 41 on the front nine, but I knew I had to make adjustments on the back nine and the sun came out, which helped,” Busker said. “I birdied hole 15 and my putts were sinking.

“It was nice shooting under 80 and it will be nice to get back into it tomorrow.”

Harrier saw the drive in all of her players, despite being heavy favorites of repeating as state champions.

“We are very happy with our 297,” the DL coach said. “Coming in, I was just hoping for at least a 310, but now we are able to have a little breathing room (Wednesday).”

Laker results - Class 2A state girls’ golf meet at The Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan, Tuesday, June 11

Team results Day One: Detroit Lakes 297, Minnewaska 316, Pequot Lakes 327, Lake City 347, Providence Academy 353, Visitation 360, Fairmont 379, Hibbing 381

Top 7 individuals: Natalie Roth (DL) 70, Kate Smith (DL) 72, Hannah Peterson (Marshall) 74, Maggie Heggerston (Pequot Lakes) 75, Savannah Stone (Pequot Lakes) 76, Jenna Janu (Minnewaska) 76, Alexis Guggisberg (Minnewaska), Trisa Hutchinson (DL) and Anni Heck (Visitation) 77

DL results: Natalie Roth 37-33-70; Kate Smith 36-36-72; Trisa Hutchinson 36-41-77; Sydney Busker 41-37-78; Emma Thompson 43-40-83; Matty Tschider 39-45-84

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.