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Kristofferson fulfills goal with state bid

Park Rapids' Katie Kristofferson worked on her short game at Headwaters Country Club Wednesday in preparation for the state meet.

Katie Kristofferson always believed she had the ability to qualify for the state Class AA girls golf tournament.

The Park Rapids senior accomplished her goal in her final attempt Monday at Longbow Golf Course near Walker.

Kristofferson, who qualified for her fourth section meet by carding a season-best 81 during the subsection tournament, claimed the final state berth by winning a sudden-death playoff after carding a 91.

Kristofferson went from having tears of sorrow to tears of joy in earning her first state berth.

After being the last group on the course, Kristofferson thought she was in position to qualify for state after carding a 44 on the front side and being 4-over on the back side with two holes to play.

However on the par-3 No. 17 hole, Kristofferson was informed that she had to take a pair of two-stroke penalties for grounding a club in a sand trap twice. Instead of leaving that hole with a 5, Kristofferson had to take a 9.

The Park Rapids senior thought her 47 on the back side and 91 total wasn't good enough to qualify, so she began packing away her clubs. Park Rapids head coach Walt Harrison informed her that she and Roseau's Gracie Olson were tied at 91 and had to go into a playoff for the final state berth.

On the first playoff hole, Kristofferson regained her composure, sinking a 5-foot putt for par to qualify for her first state meet. Olson was putting for a double-bogey when Kristofferson ended it.

"This was my last shot to go to state so I knew I had to do it this year," said Kristofferson. "I usually choke (at the section meet), so I didn't have high expectations. After I shot a 44 on the front nine, I thought I had a good chance. After I took a 9 on No. 17, I thought it was over. I signed my card and went straight to the bus. I thought that I had blown it. Then coach came over and told me I was in a playoff. I knew this was my last shot. I just wanted to get a better score than the other girl."

"Katie was all upset and crying in the bus when I told her she was in a playoff," said Harrison. "I thought it was going to be tough for her to regroup after that, but she played that first hole beautifully. She had a good drive, took a 7-iron and laid up in front of the creek, hit her third shot pin high on the fringe of the green, putted to within 5 feet and sank the putt for par. There was a lot of pressure on her to go to state and she really came through. Katie has worked so hard on her game. It was a nice way to cap off her senior year."

Kristofferson entered the previous three section meets with scores good enough to advance to state.

As a freshman, Kristofferson had a season-best 88 before carding rounds of 92 at the subsection meet and 111 at the section meet.

As a sophomore, Kristofferson shot a season-best 84 at the subsection meet before carding a 105 at the section tournament.

Last season, Kristofferson shot a career-low 81 during the regular season before ending the year with a 96 at the subsection meet and a 99 at the section tournament.

Her bad luck changed this season. Kristofferson was a model of consistency all season, averaging an 89 in 11 18-hole meets. During that stretch, Kristofferson's rounds ranged from 85 to 94.

After carding her career best at the subsection meet, Kristofferson played another solid round on Monday to earn her first state trip.

"I wanted to go last year, but I choked. I finally did it this year," said Kristofferson. "I've been playing better this year. The difference this year was after I hit a bad shot, I let it go. When I shot an 81 (at the subsection meet), that gave me a lot of confidence."

Kristofferson will make her state debut at Jordan's Ridges at Sand Creek course on Tuesday. The final 18 holes will be played Wednesday.

"I hope I play better than at sections," said Kristofferson, who became the first member of the Park Rapids girls golf team to qualify for state since Lexi Aho shot a 91 at the 2007 section meet. "I'd like to shoot between 85 and 90 both days. I'm going to go and have a good time."

"I'm thrilled for Katie," said Harrison. "I hope Katie can relax and have a good time. I hope Katie puts together two good rounds and finishes in the middle of the pack. That would be a good way to finish her career."

Panthers struggle in final

The section meet didn't go so well for the other Panthers.

Mariena Dearstyne was disqualified for dropping a ball outside the required two club lengths out of a hazard while Hannah Williams carded a 99. Riley Kimball's 114 and Alyza Edevold's 120 rounded out Park Rapids' 424 team score.

Detroit Lakes used a 75 by Kate Smith, a 76 by Natalie Roth and a pair of 79s by Trisa Hutchinson and Matty Tschider to win the section title with a 309. Thief River Falls was a distant second with a 378.

United North Central's Tasha Maninga carded a 103.

Team scores: Detroit Lakes 309, Thief River Falls 378, Perham 387, Roseau 391, Pelican Rapids 392, Park Rapids 424.

Individual results

Kate Smith, Detroit Lakes, 75. 2, Natalie Roth, Detroit Lakes, 76. 3, Trisa Hutchinson, Detroit Lakes, 79. 4, Matt Tschider, Detroit Lakes. 79. 5, Monica Wold, Crookston, 82. 6, Sydney Busker, Detroit Lakes, 83. 7, Alexa Bekkerus, Pelican Rapids, 86. 8, Rachel Nelson, Perham, 88. 9, Kelsey Schlenker, East Grand Forks, 90. 10, Katie Kristofferson, Park Rapids, 91.

Park Rapids results

Katie Kristofferson 91, Hannah Williams 99, Riley Kimball 114, Alyza Edevold 120, Katie Walsh 121.

Panthers advance in record fashion

Led by a 1-2 finish by Dearstyne (with a 78) and Kristofferson (with an 81), the Panthers carded a school record 354 to take first place at last Thursday's Section 8AA North tournament at Crookston's Minakwa Golf Course. The old record was a 355 set in 1981.

Williams' 90 and Edevold's 105 rounded out the Panthers' team score.

"Our goal this year was to get under 360," said Harrison. "We got it at the right time. The girls really played well."

Thief River Falls finished a distant second with a 381 while Roseau claimed the other section berth with a 390.

In addition to the top three teams, Crookston's Monica Wold (89), East Grand Forks' Emily Gottberg (95), Maggie Tweeten (97) and Kelsey Schlenk (99), Maninga (97), and Warroad's Dayton Hilgert (100) advanced to the Section 8AA meet.

Laura Niska (101) and Ally Ohlgren (108) also competed for UNC at the subsection meet.

Team scores: Park Rapids 354, Thief River Falls 381, Roseau 390, East Grand Forks 393, Crookston 401, Warroad 451, Bagley 545, United North Central incomplete.

Section 8A qualifiers

Medalist: Mariena Dearstyne, Park Rapids, 78. 2, Katie Kristofferson, Park Rapids, 81. 3, Monica Wold, Crookston, 89. 4, Hannah Williams, Park Rapids, 90. 5, Emily Gottberg, East Grand Forks, 95. 6, Maggie Tweeten, East Grand Forks, 97, 7, Tasha Maninga, United North Central, 97. 8, Kelsey Schlenk, East Grand Forks, 99. 9, Dayton Hilgert, Warroad, 100.

Park Rapids results

Mariena Dearstyne 37-41-78, Katie Kristofferson 41-40-81, Hannah Williams 46-44-90, Alyza Edevold 50-55-105, Riley Kimball 52-56-108, Katie Walsh 58-53-111.

United North Central results

Tasha Maninga 47-50-97, Laura Niska 51-50-101, Ally Ohlgren 55-53-108.