Park Rapids’ Anna Eckmann and United North Central’s Andreas Aho were looking to finish among the leaders at the state Class AA golf tournament at Ridges at Sand Creek near Jordan on June 15-16.

Both teed up solid rounds on both days as Eckmann tied for fifth place in the girls tournament while Aho tied for 14th place in the boys tournament. Park Rapids’ Mady Maninga also played well, sharing 31st place in the girls tournament. All three were making their state debuts.

Eckmann ties for 5th

Eckmann carded two consistent rounds to finish among the leaders and bring home a state medal.

“Tying for fifth definitely surpassed my expectations. It was my first year going to state, so I was just hoping to learn the course and play my best no matter what place that put me in,” said Eckmann. “I was definitely very happy with the way I played both days. This course was the hardest one that we played all year, so shooting in the low 80s definitely made me happy.”

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The Park Rapids freshman was in eighth place after Day 1 with an 81 while Maninga shared 28th place at 91. Perham’s Mallory Belka held the lead at 73 with Lake City’s Jordana Windhorst two shots back at 75. Cannon Falls’ Margaret Buhr was third at 78, LeSueur-Henderson’s Makenna Reinhardt and Minnewaska Area’s Annika Stensrud were tied for fourth at 79, and Albany’s Abby Thelen and Pequot Lakes’ Morgan Krieger were tied for sixth at 80.

Eckmann moved up the leaderboard with another 81 on Day 2 to share fifth place. Belka carded a 75 to claim the state title at 148 while Windhorst carded an 82 to finish second at 157. Providence Academy’s Grace Petzold, who opened with an 82, shot a 76 on Day 2 to move into third place at 158. Stensrud’s 82 led to a 161 for fourth place while Reinhardt carded an 83 to tie Eckmann at 162. Buhr shot an 85 to slip to seventh place at 163. Rounding out the top 10 were Caledonia’s Jenna Wiebke at 164, Krieger at 167 and Lake City’s Ella Matzke at 168.

Maninga capped off her sophomore season by carding a 91 on Day 2 to tie for 31st at 180. The other Section 8AA golfers saw Fergus Falls’ Annika Jyrkas tying for 12th at 170, Fergus Falls’ Ellia Soydara finishing 19th at 174, Crookston’s Joslynn Leach tying Maninga at 180, Fergus Falls’ Annie Mayer finishing 50th at 189, Hawley’s Ivy Tickel finishing 54th at 192, Fergus Falls’ Lexi Metcalf tying for 55th at 194, Fergus Falls’ Thea Eklund tying for 61st at 197 and Fergus Falls’ Ella Mayer finishing 74th at 206. There were 87 golfers competing at the state tournament.

Lake City won the state title with rounds of 343 and 330 for a 673 with Providence Academy using a 352 on Day 2 to move into second place at 717 while Fergus Falls carded rounds of 359 and 368 to place third at 727. Minnewaska Area was fourth at 732 and Pequot Lakes was fifth at 734 with a pair of 367s.

“Going into the first day I was definitely feeling the nerves because it was the biggest event of the year. But once I hit off the first tee, they just kinda melted away and I knew I just had to play my game. I really had no strategy. I just knew I had to play well and keep my head up when I got into tricky situations. I shot 81 both days, so I was very consistent. My driver was definitely doing good both days. It was setting me up in the fairway and it gave me the distance to have some easy second shots,” said Eckmann. “Next year I am hoping to improve my score and to maybe shoot in the high 70s. Since I will now have experience with the course, I think that goal is very achievable.”

Aho ties for 14th

Aho carded a 2-over par 74 on Day 2 to move up the leaderboard.

The United North Central senior opened with an 80 to share 38th place in the 88-golfer field. Cloquet’s Sam Baker was the Day 1 leader with a 68 while Staples-Motley’s Beck Erholtz was second at 71. Blue Earth’s Braden Gudahl and Pine Island’s Joseph Scripture were tied for third at 73 and Totino-Grace’s Peyton Savageau was fifth at 74.

On Day 2, Aho offset six bogeys with birdies on No. 1, No. 14, No. 16 and No. 17. Aho’s 74, including an even-par 36 on the back side, was tied for the ninth best score of the day as the UNC senior tied Roseau’s Teagan LaPlante and Barnesville’s Adam Tonsfeldt for the best score among Section 8AA golfers at 154. Baker carded a 73 to claim the state title with a 141 while Erholtz used a 71 to finish second at 142. Rounding out the top 5 scores were New London-Spicer’s Peyton Coahran at 145, St. Croix Lutheran’s Sam Udovich at 146 and Cloquet’s Kason Young at 149.

“I told him to play one shot at a time (and) to stay in the present. He has been hitting as straight as I've seen him hit, but on Day 1 he had some nerves to deal with and his tempo was a little off. He had to grind his way through the first day,” said UNC head coach Tim Wurdock. “Day 2 he was swinging more freely. He ended up shooting 74 by being aggressive with some tough pins. Overall it was a great experience. He was enjoyable to coach and was a great example to younger teammates.”

The other scores for the Section 8AA golfers saw Roseau’s Max Wilson with a 155 for 23rd place, Roseau’s Markus Nelson and Detroit Lakes’ Lukas Justesen tying for 36th place at 160, Perham’s Marcus Belka tying for 57th place at 165, Warroad’s Jayson Shaugabay and Roseau’s Bradyn Thingvold tying for 62nd at 167, Roseau’s Justin Thompson tying for 76th at 174 and Roseau’s Judd Ginther tying for 80th at 179.

Cloquet claimed the team title with rounds of 300 and 298 for a 598. Totino-Grace was second at 616, Delano was third at 618, Blue Earth Area finished fourth at 621 and Pine Island was fifth at 627. Roseau carded rounds of 326 and 310 for a 636 to finish sixth while Staples-Motley had rounds of 314 and 329 to finish seventh at 643.