Laker girls' golf team claims second-straight state championship
JORDAN - The season of domination for the Detroit Lakes girls’ golf team came to the ending many thought it would, as Class 2A state champions for the second year in a row.
Not only did the Lakers clinch the state title by 31 strokes over second-place Minnewaska, they also had co-medalists in junior Natalie Roth and freshman Kate Smith, who each finished with a 108.
The path to winning their state title and completing their first ever undefeated season took a little longer than expected, after entering Wednesday’s second round at the Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan leading Minnewaska by 19 strokes.
A five-hour rain delay pushed back all the boys’ and girls’ tee times and forced the MSHSL to cut the tournament to nine holes Wednesday.
But even Mother Nature couldn’t deny the Lakers their gold-place finish, as DL netted a 448, after shooting a 297 Tuesday and a 151 nine-hole score Wednesday.
“There was a lot of pressure and expectations put on us all season and to finally win it all again, it’s a big relief,” said Smith, who also repeated as the Class 2A medalist.
After shooting a 297 in the first round Tuesday, which was just one stroke shy off the all-time state record held by Minnewaska, the Lakers had a 19-stroke cushion, which looked even more comfortable when the thunderstorms forced the second round to nine holes.
The biggest intrigue heading into the second day was the race for medalist honors, which Roth entered the day holding a two-stroke lead on Smith after shooting a two-under par 70.
Roth finished shooting a two-over par 38, while Smith shot an even par 36, to tie with a 108.
The two Lakers missed birdie putts on the 18th green to ensure both would tie.
“I don’t know if it’s karma or what, that we both missed our putts on 18,” Smith said. “I never would wish Natalie to play bad, so I just went into today focused on playing well.”
Roth started out her round by making birdie on her first hole (which was hole 10, since the girls played the back nine and the boys the front nine).
That was enough to settle her nerves and play a solid two-over par nine 38.
“I was definitely anxious to get out there and play after that long rain delay and making birdie on my first hole gave me a lot of confidence,” Roth said. “It’s just amazing to finish as (co-medalist), it’s just another item I can check off the list.”
It’s a list which is growing shorter and shorter overall for the Lakers, as they notched another goal by taking back-to-back titles.
Junior Trisa Hutchinson also was able to check off an item, after finishing as an All-State golfer by finishing seventh overall with a score of 77-37-114.
“It’s unbelievable and a feeling like one in a million,” Hutchinson said of state title No. 3 for the Laker girls’ program. “Now, 295 is a big goal of ours. I just feel so lucky being on a team like this and I am not taking this feeling for granted.”
Sophomore Sydney Busker also had a breakout state meet after finishing 10th overall with a 78-40-118. Her 78 Tuesday was a season low score and she finished as DL’s fourth scorer, after entering the state meet as the team’s No. 6 golfer.
“I’m so happy for Sydney and so very proud for her,” said DL head coach Cali Harrier. “She has been so consistent this season and I’m so glad she is peaking at the right time.
“We were in a unique situation today, since this is the first nine-hole day tournament we’ve ever played. And for Kate and Natalie to be co-medalist, it’s typical of the season we’ve had, because we’ve had so many girls go low for us.”
Juniors Emma Thompson and Section 8-2A medalist Matty Tschider had solid performances by tying for 18th overall with a 125.
“This was Emma’s first year in a state tournament and she played well,” Harrier said. “And Matty just was her consistent self all year. Trisa has been a leader in every meet and is just a comeback kid, because she can go for bogey on one hole and strike for birdie on the next.”
But what’s remarkable about this Laker team is they will have two state medalists returning next season, along with the entire team back five players who have won two state championships and one who now has one state title underneath her belt.
All six have shot under 80 at one time or another and seven times, four golfers have shot under 80 in the same meet.
“I never had a doubt my team would not pull through this,” Roth said. “Winning two team state championships is huge and we all push each other to be as competitive as we can be.”
So is three-peat already in the works for the Lakers?
Harrier won’t predict that, but she will say next season will be a fun one with new goals already being set.
“The fun part in all this, is we get to come back next year and try and do it again,” the DL coach said. “These girls are still very hungry and motivated to do it again.”
That’s all which needs to be said for a team which is teetering on the brink of being considered a dynasty in Minnesota golf.
Laker results - Class 2A state meet at the Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan, Tuesday-Wednesday, June 11-12
Team results: Detroit Lakes 448, Minnewaska 479, Pequot Lakes 484, Lake City 510, Providence Academy 525, Visitation 536, Hibbing 568, Fairmont 588
Top Seven individuals: Co-Medalists – Natalie Roth (DL) and Kate Smith (DL) 108; Savannah Stone (PL) 111, Alexis Guggisberg (Mwksa) 112, Maggie Heggerston (PL) 113, Jenna Janu (Mwska) 113, Trisa Hutchinson (DL) 114, Emma Groom (St. Croix Lutheran) 114, Anjni Heck (Visitation) 114
DL results: Natalie Roth 70-38-108; Kate Smith 72-36-108; Trisa Hutchinson 77-37-114; Sydney Busker 78-40-118; Matty Tschider 84-41-125; Emma Thompson 83-42-125