Park Rapids girls look to tee up successful season
Last season, the Park Rapids girls golf team peaked down the stretch by carding six rounds under 400 in the final nine meets.
Walt Harrison says the Panthers have the talent to card rounds under 400 every time out this spring.
Having all five golfers back from last year's Section 8AA qualifying team is the main reason for Harrison's optimism.
"We should be consistently under 400 all season," said Harrison. "We have three girls back who shot under 100. If we can get a fourth girl to consistently break 100, we're going to be very competitive."
Leading the Panthers this season are the five returning veterans: seniors Katie Kristofferson and Katie Walsh, junior Hannah Williams, sophomore Alison Walsh and eighth grader Mariena Dearstyne. Kristofferson, Katie Walsh and Williams will serve as captains.
Those five helped the Panthers end the regular season by carding a 380 at Wadena, a 376 at Staples and a 374 for fourth place at the Mid-State Conference meet at Headwaters Country Club. The 374 was the Panthers' lowest score at the conference meet since shooting a 360 in 1981. Detroit Lakes won the conference title with a 331 while Staples-Motley (359) and Pequot Lakes (364) followed. None of those teams had a senior on their rosters.
Park Rapids qualified for the Section 8AA meet by placing third with a 393 at the North Subsection 8AA meet at Warroad. The Panthers ended the season with a 381 at the Section 8AA meet at Longbow to finish in fifth place.
Kristofferson returns as the Panthers' top golfer from last season. In 13 18-hole rounds, Kristofferson had a 90.6 average, including a career-best 81 at Longbow. Kristofferson also had rounds of 88 at The Preserve and HCC and had an 87 at Staples before ending the season with a 90 for all-conference honorable mention honors at the Mid-State meet, a 96 at the subsection meet and a 99 at the section meet.
Williams was second on the team with a 95.3 average in 10 18-hole rounds. Williams, whose best score was an 88 at Staples, ended the season with rounds of 94 at the Mid-State meet, 93 at the subsection meet and a team-best 89 at the section meet.
Dearstyne also had an average under 100 in her first varsity season. In 10 rounds, Dearstyne had a 97.1 average with a low of 89 at Wadena. Dearstyne ended the season by earning all-conference honorable mention honors with a 90 at the Mid-State meet and carding rounds of 92 at the subsection meet and 91 at the section meet.
Katie Walsh played nine 18-hole rounds and finished with a 107.7 average. Walsh carded a low of 100 at the conference meet before ending the season with rounds of 112 at the subsection meet and 102 at the section meet.
Alison Walsh played in 10 18-hole meets and had a 129.6 average with a low of 119 at Warroad. Walsh shots rounds of 123 at the conference meet, 133 at the subsection meet and 134 at the section meet.
Being counted on to fill that sixth varsity spot this season will be eighth graders Alyza Edevold and Dana McDonald. Also competing for a varsity spot will be eighth graders Jada Current, Paige Fritze, Mackenzie Hensel, Alyssa Horgeshimer, Riley Kimball and Alexis Stevenson; and seventh grader Drew Hilmanowski.
At last year's subsection meet, the Panthers finished behind Roseau's 362 and Crookston's 377. Detroit Lakes won the section title with a 328, followed by Perham's 355, Roseau's 355 and Crookston's 375. The final cut off for an individual berth in the state tournament was an 85. Detroit Lakes finished second and Pequot Lakes took fourth at the state Class AA tournament.
Harrison believes his team has the talent to return to the section meet and qualify at least one golfer for the state tournament.
"We set a team goal of shooting under 360 this year and we want to get some all-conference golfers and get the team back to the section meet," said Harrison. "We also want to qualify some girls for the state tournament. The girls will need to cut a few strokes off, but if they can shoot in the low 80s, they'll have a good chance to qualify."