Detroit Lakes finished third at the Section 8AAA girls golf championship in Park Rapids, while Alexandria erased a four-stroke Brainerd lead to defeat the two-time defending champions by four strokes at Headwaters Golf Club Friday, June 4.
The Cardinals top duo of junior Cora Larson (74 +2) and Hannah Boraas (73 +1) shot the two best rounds of the day to overtake first round leader Izzy Olson of Brainerd and share medalist honors with matching two-day scores of 147.
Olson, a sophomore, saw her four-stroke, first round lead wilt in the near 100 degree temperatures with a second round 82. She held on to third place by one stroke over Detroit Lakes’ top golfer, junior McKenna Mallow.
Detroit Lakes head coach Dustin Martin talked to his team on the driving range about doing their best to not make the weather a factor.
“Get it out of your head about the heat and how hot it’s going to be," he said. "Basically, you’re going to sweat your butts off today. I wanted them to mentally prepare for it that way.”
Mallow followed up her first round of 75 with a 78 to hold steady in fourth place and clinch an individual berth at the upcoming Class AAA state tournament.
The top five individuals, not on the winning team, advance.
Mallow shot 3-over on the front nine with a birdie at the par-5, fourth hole and finished at even par on the backside recording pars on nine straight holes from the turn to the 17th. She closed with a birdie at the par-5, 18th.
The Lakers trailed by just nine strokes after day one, but added 14 to their opening score of 319 to finish at 652 for the tournament. DL was well ahead of fourth place Becker by 76 strokes.
“I was proud of our team score,” said Martin. “We averaged a 325 and a 325 on the second day at the state tournament two years ago would have won a state championship. All the girls supported each other and I’m proud of the way they played."
The tournament was tight, which was expected by all three head coaches representing the first, third and fourth ranked teams based on scoring averages statewide.
Alexandria was the most consistent team carding scores of 314 and 316 to win with a 630. Brainerd scored 634 after opening with a 310 and the first round lead.
Brainerd junior Katie Foley made the biggest jump up the leaderboard moving from 10th to fifth place with the third best round of the day (75), but the Warriors trailed the Cardinals by 15 strokes after the first two golfers were off the course thanks to Larson and Boraas.
Alex junior Lauren Rebrovich helped seal the victory with a sixth place finish (81-80 161), one stroke better than Brainerd’s Anna Krieger in seventh place.
With Mallow, Olson, Foley and Krieger grabbing four of the five open state qualifying spots, there was only remaining and it came down to a playoff between two Laker freshmen Laura Syltie (81-84 165) and Hanna Knoop (80-85 165), who tied for eighth place overall.
The situation was not an easy one for the players or the coaching staff.
“It was my worst fear that was going to happen, watching the scores through 14 and 15,” said Martin.
After a brief session on the putting green, Martin approached Syltie and Knoop on the tee box at Hole No. 1.
The Laker coaching staff was going to stay out of the playoff and let the players handle the ending.
Martin was frank with both golfers.
“We’re going to be teammates now; we’ll be teammates after the hole,” he said. “One of you is going to get to go and one of you is not. That's about it.”
Both Laker freshmen found some trouble on their drives on the par-4, 300-yard first.
Syltie was right off the tee into the rough and trees avoiding a big slope down to 13th fairway. Knoop was in the trees on the left.
Syltie punched out in front of the green, while Knoop’s effort found a tree on her punch shot and came back to her. She ended up facing a long bogey putt from approximately 30 feet that almost dropped. Syltie was on the green in three strokes and two-putted for victory, sinking the winner from four feet.
Knoop finished her back nine at even par with a birdie at 18 to get into the playoff. Syltie struggled down the stretch after a birdie at the par 4, 14th. She parred 15 and came in with three consecutive bogeys.
Despite that, she steeled her nerves to win the playoff.
Congrats @GolfLaker on your 3rd place finish in 8AAA. Congratulations to McKenna Mallow and Laura Syltie who were individual state qualifiers. Laura beat out teammate Hanna Knoop in a playoff for the final spot. @DLPublicSchools pic.twitter.com/xXQR2mDomT
Congrats @GolfLaker on your 3rd place finish in 8AAA. Congratulations to McKenna Mallow and Laura Syltie who were individual state qualifiers. Laura beat out teammate Hanna Knoop in a playoff for the final spot. @DLPublicSchools pic.twitter.com/xXQR2mDomT— Detroit Lakes High (@DetLakesHigh) June 4, 2021
The section final was the last tournament for the two Laker seniors.
McKenna Burhans had a pair of back nine birdies at the par-4 13th and par-5 15th to finish in a tie for 12th place overall (83-88 171).
Evan Westrum (90-86 176) placed in the top 20 in 17th place carding one birdie on the front nine at the par-4 seventh.
Both Burhans and Westrum were members of Detroit Lakes’ last Class AA state championship team in 2018.
Seventh grader Tatum Gatheridge (94-93 187) finished an impressive season as DL’s youngest golfer in a tie for 24th overall.
Alexandria’s win was a big one for the Cardinals’ program having lost the last two section titles to Brainerd by one stroke.
The Cardinals, along with Mallow and Syltie, will compete at the Class AAA state championship at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Minneapolis June 15-16. Syltie and Mallow will be the first DL golfers to compete at AAA state.
The boys team will join the girls in Class AAA next season. The boys Section 8AA championship is scheduled for June 7-8 at Bemidji Town and Country Club. The Lakers have won four straight section titles and finished second at the last two state meets in 2018-19. Crookston was the last team other than Detroit Lakes to gain a state berth in 2015.
Section 8AAA Championship, Round 2 of 2
1 Alexandria 314-316 630
2 Brainerd 310-324 634
3 Detroit Lakes 319-333 652
4 Becker 363-365 728
5 Sartell-St. Stephen 374-372 746
6 Buffalo 378-381 759
7 Moorhead 374-389 763
Willmar 486, Bemidji 569, Monticello 511, St. Cloud 720.
Leaderboard: (* individual state qualifier)
T1 Cora Larson, ALEX 73-74 147
T1 Hannah Boraas, ALEX 74-73 147
*3 Izzy Olson, BRD 70-82 152
*4 McKenna Mallow, DL 75-78-153
*5 Katie Foley, BRD 82-75 157
6 Lauren Rebrovich, ALEX 81-80 161
*7 Anna Krieger, BRD 79-83 162
*T8 Laura Syltie, DL 81-84 165
T8 Hanna Knoop, DL 80-85 165
10 Anna Angland, BRD 7988-167
T12 McKenna Burhans, DL 83-88 171
17 Evan Westrum 90-86 176
T24 Tatum Gatheridge 94-93 187
Read more stories by Robert Williams here.