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Park Rapids girls set goal of qualifying individuals for state

As the lone senior, Hannah Williams will be counted on to lead this year's Park Rapids girls golf team.

     Even with the graduation of his best golfer, Walt Harrison is counting on another successful season from the Park Rapids girls golf team.

     Katie Kristofferson was one the Panthers’ top golfer during her five-year varsity career and capped off her senior season by qualifying for the state Class AA tournament last spring. Kristofferson carded a runner-up 81 at the North Subsection 8AA meet in helping the Panthers break the school record with a 354 team score and carded a 91 at the section meet to earn the final spot for the state meet.

     Despite the loss of Kristofferson, Harrison has lofty goals for the Panthers this spring.

     Having nine golfers returning from last season is the main reason Harrison feels the Panthers have the potential to break 360 again and qualify more than one golfer for the state tournament this spring.

     “It’s going to be hard to replace Katie, who led us the last few years,” said Harrison. “We’re going to set some fairly high goals. We’re going to try and break 360 again and try to get two girls to state. I think both are possible.”

     Being counted on to lead the Panthers this spring are senior Hannah Williams; freshmen Jada Current, Mariena Dearstyne, Alyza Edevold, Paige Fritze, Riley Kimball, Dana McDonald and Lexi Stevenson; and eighth grader Drew Hilmanowski. Williams and Fritze will serve as captains.

     That group led the Panthers to a first-place showing in Northern Pines Conference play, a fourth-place showing at the Mid-State Conference meet with a 374, a first-place effort at the subsection meet by breaking the school record of 355 set in 1981, and a sixth-place finish at the section tournament with a 424. During the season, the Panthers carded seven rounds under 400.

     Williams will be counted on to provide leadership as she enters her fifth year on varsity. Williams carded 10 rounds under 100 with a low of 87. Williams ended the season by carding an 88 at the Mid-State Conference meet, a 90 for fourth place at the subsection meet and a 99 at the section meet. Williams was second on the team last year with a 92.6 18-hole average.

     Dearstyne was third on the team with an 18-hole average of 94.3. In 10 18-hole rounds, Dearstyne shot 100 or lower nine times. Dearstyne carded a 97 at the Mid-State meet and earned Northern Pines Conference honors by having the third-lowest score. Dearstyne capped off the season by earning medalist honors at the subsection meet with a 78.

     Kimball and Edevold rounded out the subsection and section teams. Kimball finished with a 112.8 average in nine rounds, highlighted by a 108 at the subsection meet and a 114 in her section debut. Edevold compiled a 113.3 average in seven 18-hole rounds with low of 104. Edevold ended the season with a 105 at the subsection meet and a 120 at the section meet.

     Hilmanowski had a 118.3 average in three 18-hole rounds with a low of 105, McDonald played six 18-hole rounds and had a 121.7 average with a low of 114, Fritze played two rounds and had a 130.0 average with a low of 122, Stevenson played three rounds and had a 134.0 average with a low of 127, and Current had a 150.0 average in two 18-hole meets with a low of 148. Hilmanowski carded a 116 at the Mid-State meet while Current, Edevold, Hilmanowski, Kimball, McDonald and Stevenson also competed in Northern Pines Conference matches.

     Rounding out this year’s varsity roster are freshman MacKenzie Hensel and eighth graders Olivia McDonald, Amber Schroeder and Olivia Wallace.

     “I’m hoping to have a good spring,” said Harrison. “Hannah and Mariena have demonstrated that they can score pretty well. We need two more to fill in and hopefully they’ll get 100 or better. The key will be how much they played last summer. The younger girls had a lot of chances to play last year and hopefully that will help them this year.”

     If two of the younger girls can play consistent golf, Harrison is confident the Panthers can reach their team goal of carding rounds under 400 on a consistent basis in addition to challenging for individual state berths.

     “If the younger girls can come through, we’ll be competitive with schools our size and we’ll reach our goal of scoring under 400,” said Harrison.  “Hannah and Mariena have scored well enough in the past and I think they are both capable of getting to state. They just have to play well at the right time.”