Panthers met goal with section trip
Walt Harrison was counting on the Park Rapids girls golf team to shoot under 400 multiple times and advance to the Section 8AA tournament this spring.
Even with a short spring, the Panthers accomplished both goals.
During the regular season, the Panthers played only four 18-hole rounds and shot under 400 both times with their top six golfers. The Panthers peaked at the end of the season by carding their lowest rounds at the North Subsection 8AA and Section 8AA tournaments while freshman Mariena Dearstyne provided the main highlight by qualifying for the state Class AA tournament.
In addition to Dearstyne, the other top golfers for the Panthers this season were senior Hannah Williams; freshmen Alyza Edevold, Riley Kimball and Dana McDonald; and eighth grader Drew Hilmanowski. Also competing for the Panthers this season were freshmen Jada Current, Paige Fritze, Mackenzie Hensel and Lexi Stevenson; and eighth graders Olivia McDonald, Ashley Schroeder and Olivia Wallace.
In the season opener, Dearstyne’s 88, Williams’ 91, Kimball’s 108 and Edevold’s 110 led the Panthers to a 397 and fourth place at the 12-team Park Rapids Invitational at Headwaters Country Club. Bemidji took first with a 386.
Williams carded an 86 to earn all-conference honorable mention honors as the Panthers finished fifth at the Mid-State Conference meet at the Vintage at Staples with a 404. Detroit Lakes repeated as conference champs with a 306. Dearstyne’s 94, Kimball’s 110 and Dana McDonald’s 114 rounded out the Panthers’ team score.
Williams followed by earning medalist honors with an 84 as the Panthers finished third with a 399 at the 12-team Longbow Invitational. Dearstyne’s 94, Kimball’s 110 and a pair of 111s by Dana McDonald and Hilmanowski rounded out Park Rapids’ team score. Fosston took first with a 377.
At the Wadena-Deer Creek Invitational, the Panthers carded a 413 to finish fifth out of eight teams. Dearstyne’s 94, Edevold’s 103, Dana McDonald’s 106 and Kimball’s 110 led the Panthers. Alexandria led the way with a 337.
Park Rapids also claimed runner-up honors during Northern Pines Conference play as Dearstyne and Williams received all-conference honors and Dana McDonald received all-conferenced honorable mention honors.
Dearstyne’s 86 and Williams’ 87 led the Panthers to third place with a 389 at the North Subsection 8AA meet at East Grand Forks. Edevold and Kimball carded 108s to help the Panthers advance to the section tournament. Dana McDonald and Hilmanowski carded 117s. Roseau took first with a 376 while Crookston earned the other section berth with a runner-up 387.
The Panthers ended the season by placing third at the section meet with a 390. Dearstyne carded an 86 to claim the fourth individual state berth while Williams carded an 87 and lost in a sudden-death playoff for the fifth individual state berth. Edevold’s 107 and Kimball’s 110 rounded out the Panthers’ team score while Dana McDonald carded a 114 and Hilmanowski carded a 128. Detroit Lakes won the section title with a 310 and went on to repeat as the state Class AA champions.
In her state debut, Dearstyne carded rounds of 98 and 47 to share 68th place out of 88 golfers with a 145. Detroit Lakes’ Natalie Roth and Kate Smith shared the state title with 108s.
“It was a tough spring, but when we had our top six girls, we did very well,” said Harrison. “We started the season with a 397 and were hoping to drop from that score, but there was no time to practice and improve. The girls played well at the end of the season. It was another good year.”
Looking ahead to next season, the Panthers will have to replace Williams, who was named the team’s MVP. However, everyone else returns, including Dearstyne, Dana McDonald (who was voted Most Dedicated) and Hilmanowski (who was voted Most Improved).
“It’s going to be tough to replace Hannah. She was such a good leader and she’s been a mainstay since her freshman year,” said Harrison. “We didn’t have any juniors or sophomores on the team, so the future looks really good. Our numbers look good for the next few years. I look for Mariena to be one of the top golfers in northern Minnesota and I look for us to break 400 consistently next year. I think we’ll have the talent to get back to the section meet. It all depends on how much golf the girls play this summer.”