Park Rapids girls return two section qualifiers, hope to card rounds under 400 consistently
Having a pair of Section 8AA qualifiers returning has Walt Harrison expecting another solid season from the Park Rapids girls golf team this spring.
Last year, the Panthers shot below 400 six times, highlighted by a 375 at Headwaters Country Club and a 391 for fourth place at the North Section 8AA meet.
With the return of four varsity players and the addition of nine first-year varsity players, Harrison is counting on the Panthers to once again card rounds under 400 this season.
Leading the Panthers will be juniors Katie Kristofferson, Katie Walsh and Allycia Zinke and sophomore Hannah Williams. Kristofferson, Walsh and Williams will serve as captains this season.
Kristofferson shared the team's Most Valuable honor after posting a 96.7 18-hole average in 12 meets. Kristofferson shot under 100 seven times, highlighted by an 84 for fifth place at the North Section 8AA tournament. Kristofferson ended the season with a 100 at the Mid-State Conference meet and a 105 at the Section 8AA meet.
Williams ended the season with a 102 average in 10 meets, including three straight rounds under 100 in the final three meets. Williams tied for the team's best score at the conference meet with a 97 and followed with a 97 for 13th place at the subsection meet and a season-best 95 at the section tournament.
Walsh also played in 10 meets and had a 115 average, including a season-best 105 at the Pelican Rapids Invitational. Walsh ended the season by carding a 111 at the conference meet and a 120 at the subsection meet.
Zinke played six varsity rounds and finished with a 142.3 average. Zinke shot a 138 at the conference meet and a 146 at the subsection meet.
Looking to fill in for last year's senior crew of Kirsten Erickson (who shared team MVP honors after carding a 96.9 average in 10 meets, including a 91 at the section tournament) and Kallie Zeller (who had a 118 average in three meets, including a 111 at the subsection tournament) are seniors Taylor Ondracek and Sophie Shogren; juniors Brandy Parsons and Kaylee Holland; sophomores Emily Creager and Tonya Melott; freshman Allison Walsh; seventh-grader Mariena Dearstyne; and foreign-exchange student Valli Florack. None of those players have competed in a varsity meet before.
Last season, the Panthers finished fourth at the Mid-State Conference tournament and just missed advancing to the section meet by finishing behind Roseau, Crookston and East Grand Forks.
If the Panthers can find a fourth score, moving up in the conference standings and once again contending for a section berth are reachable goals.
"I think we're going to be competitive with schools our size," said Harrison. "Katie (Kristofferson) and Hannah should be solid again and I look for Katie (Walsh) to improve. With the combination of experience and some new kids who show potential, we should be a decent team. I think we have a chance to break 400 again this year."