Section golf: Rosemount girls make their lead stand up

Lakeville South boys win their way back to state

With Rosemount among the contenders to win what looked to be a wide-open Class 3A, Section 3 girls golf tournament, Irish coach Barry Wallin looked for ways to take some pressure off his team.

His idea: Tell the players they already had completed their most meaningful work of the season, and anything they accomplished at the section tournament was a bonus.

It worked. Rosemount took a 15-stroke lead after the first day of the section tourney at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids and held off a challenge by Eagan in Monday’s final round to win by 10. The Irish won their first section team championship since 2014.

“We were sitting in the clubhouse at Emerald Greens (the Irish’s home course) the day before the first round of the section tournament,” Wallin said. “I told them, ‘This is what the season has been about – a group of seven or eight of us, working together, setting aside any differences to compete as a team. We’ve already done that, and anything we do in the section tournament is gravy.’ ”

The Irish, whose average team score was about 380 early in the season, brought that down to the mid-300s by late May. They had a two-round total of 697 in the section tournament at Bunker Hills and were the only team below 700.

Rosemount junior Sydney Regalado finished third in the individual competition with rounds of 78 and 82 for a 160 total. Senior Gretchen McDonald had two rounds of 86 for a 172 total. Nidhi Sunkam (184), Megan Shandorf (185), Renee Boldus (187) and Ellenor Westphal (216) also played for the Irish in the section tourney.

Rosemount advances to the state Class 3A tournament – also at Bunker Hills – Tuesday, June 13, and Wednesday, June 14. Girls tee times start at noon each day.

The Irish, who also played at Bunker Hills in the Minnesota Preview tournament earlier this spring, apparently can’t get enough of the place. The Friday before Memorial Day weekend, Wallin was looking to set up tee times for a practice round at another course, figuring the Irish already were familiar with Bunker Hills. But McDonald, one of the captains, demanded to know when the girls were playing at Bunker Hills. That, Wallin said, told him plenty about the players’ willingness to do whatever was necessary to be ready for a big tournament.

Rosemount also played steadily on Monday after building its lead. Wallin admitted to some concern. “It’s tough sleeping on a lead, which we had to do for a couple of days,” he said. “And 15 strokes is nothing; I remember Eagan coming back to win the section championship a few years after trailing by 15 or 18 strokes after the first day.”

The Irish did well at saving strokes around the greens and were able to keep their minds on the task at hand, Wallin said. “You hear it all the time on TV – one hole at a time, one shot at a time,” the coach said. “If you think too far ahead, that’s when you can get in trouble. Our kids did a really nice job on focusing on the next shot and the next hole. Most of our girls didn’t know what they shot until they signed their scorecards.”

Although Eagan came up short in its attempt to send a team to state, the Wildcats did have three individual qualifiers for state. Josalynn Abbott was fourth overall in Section 3 with a two-day score of 168. Joleen Werden (174) and Sarah Rutzick (176) were sixth and seventh.

Apple Valley was one of five girls teams advancing to the second day of the section tournament, and the Eagles wound up in fifth with a 772 total.

St. Thomas Academy won the Section 3 boys team tournament, held concurrently with the girls tournament at Bunker Hills. The Cadets shot 608 for a 23-stroke victory over Eagan. Eastview finished fourth with a 637 total.

Eastview senior Luke Doolittle was second in the individual competition with a two-day total of 150, two strokes behind Brady Arnett of St. Thomas Academy. Doolittle advances to the state tourney next week, as do Steven Podratz of Eagan (tied for fifth, 156), Will Frazier of Eastview (tied for fifth, 156), Connor Humble of Rosemount (tied for eighth, 157) and Joe Rohlf of Eagan (tied for eighth, 157).

Class 3A, Section 1

Lakeville South earned another shot at a boys golf state championship after surviving the weather and the competition at the Class 3A, Section 1 tournament last week in Lake City.

Thunderstorms rolled through the Jewel Golf Club on Saturday, cutting the final round of the Section 1 tourney to nine holes. That made it tougher on the teams chasing Lakeville South, which held a nine-stroke lead after the first round June 1.

Lakeville North made a run the second day but finished three strokes behind Lakeville South, which qualified for the state Class 3A tourney for the third consecutive year. The Cougars were third in 2015 and runners-up in 2016.

South was led by ninth-grader Gavin Cronkhite, who shot 73-40–113 to tie for fourth place. Tanner Sperling tied for the best score Saturday – a 35 over nine holes – and finished tied for sixth at 114.

Brandon Sperling, William Moore, Griffin Norcia and John Langlois also will play for North in the Class 3A tournament. Boys tee times start at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 13, and Wednesday, June 14, at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids.

Lakeville North not only missed a spot in the state team competition by just three strokes, two of its players were denied individual spots in the state tourney in deflating fashion. Max McCarty and Ryan Oberg were part of a tie for sixth place with 27-hole scores of 114. That put them in a three-way playoff with Rochester John Marshall eighth-grader Nathan Meyer for one state tournament spot, which Meyer earned by making birdie on the fourth extra hole.

Farmington qualified for the second day of the Section 1 boys tourney and finished fifth. The Tigers’ Cade Bowe led them in the first round with a 79.

Red Wing completed a runaway with the Class 3A, Section 1 girls tournament Monday at Cannon Golf Club in Cannon Falls. The Wingers, first in the Minnesota Golf Association all-class state rankings, had a two-round total of 632 and came in 51 strokes ahead of second-place Lakeville North, the MGA’s fifth-ranked team.

Two Lakeville North players qualified individually for state. Junior Megan Welch, who tied for second in the 2016 Class 3A tourney, was third in Section 1 with a 149 total. Welch’s sister Emma, an eighth-grader, finished eighth with 173 and grabbed the last available qualifying spot.

The Welches will play in the Class 3A girls tourney June 13-14 at Bunker Hills, with tee times starting at 7:30 a.m. each day.

Lakeville South finished sixth in the Section 1 girls tourney with a 732 total.