Anna Eckmann and Mady Maninga took different paths to qualify for the state Class AA girls golf tournament.
Eckmann was in perfect position while Maninga faced a challenge in order to advance to state after the first 18 holes of the Section 8AA tournament at the Bemidji Town and Country Club on June 7. Both Park Rapids golfers did what was necessary during the final 18 holes on June 8 to earn their first trips to state.
Eckmann finished third overall and earned the second individual berth with a two-day total of 164 while Maninga moved up to sixth place overall and claimed the fourth individual berth with a 175. Both relied on their preparation in the offseason to qualify for state.
“Playing in summer tournaments has definitely benefited my mental game with being able to stay calm and focused when things go wrong during a round,” said Eckmann. “Going into sections I felt very prepared with all of the practice that I had been doing and I knew that if I played well and kept my head up I could make it.”
“Getting to where I'm at today has taken a lot of focus and practice. Every day I tried being out at the course,” said Maninga. “I had a lot of help from my coaches and my dad who continued to encourage me.”
Eckmann and Maninga had different results on Day 1.
Eckmann opened with a 4-over par 76 to trail only Perham’s Mallory Belka’s 74 while Maninga had to make up ground after carding a 94. In addition to Belka and Eckmann, Hawley’s Sophie Cook (85) and Crookston’s Grace Fischer (88) and Joslynn Leach (89) held the individual state berths after the first round. Fergus Falls, which held the team lead, was led by 84s by Annika Jyrkas and Ellia Soydara and an 85 by Annie Mayer.
On Day 2, Eckmann struggled a bit by carding an 88, but used a hole-in-one on hole No. 7 to secure a state berth. Maninga carded the third best round of the day with an 82 to move up the leaderboard and also advance to state. Belka carded a 75 to earn medalist honors with a winning total of 149 while Jyrkas used a 76 to move into second place at 160. Soydara (169) and Leach (172) followed with Mayer carding a 176 and Hawley’s Ivy Tickel claiming the final individual berth at 177.
“On the first day I thought that I couldn't have played better. I was extremely happy with my 76,” said Eckmann, who advanced to the section meet as the medalist at the subsection meet with a 73. “The second day was more disappointing. I felt like my putting let me down and my shots weren't consistent. I have to thank my coach for helping me get out of my own head and staying positive that day. Getting a hole-in-one was the highlight of the entire tournament for me and it is something that I will remember forever.”
“To be honest, I was in doubt about advancing to state after my Day 1 round. I knew I could have done better on many things that day, but I tried to keep my head up,” said Maninga, who qualified for the section meet by placing third at the subsection meet with an 88. “The second day I went into the round relaxed and focused. I was nailing my putts and hitting greens consistently. I let my scorecard fall out of my thoughts and I remembered I play golf to have fun. I stayed 100% with each shot and just played my game.”
Eckmann and Maninga will compete at the state Class AA tournament at the Ridges at Sand Creek course in Jordan on June 15-16. Both were looking to play well in their state debuts.
“It is going to be such an honor to represent Park Rapids with Mady at state,” said Eckmann, who missed qualifying for state by one shot as a seventh grader for Paynesville in 2019. “I am hoping to shoot low 80s to high 70s. I also don't want to put too much pressure on myself and just have fun because when I am less stressed is when I feel like I play my best golf.”
“It is going to be amazing to represent Park Rapids with Anna at a state level,” said Maninga. “My expectations for the state tournament are to have fun and enjoy the game of golf. I will shoot for the low 80s or even high 70s.”