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Park Rapids boys golf team shows improvement

Bjorn Jorgenson was the overall medalist in Northern Pines Conference play, earned Mid-State Conference honors, qualified for the Section 8AA tournament and led the Panthers with an 82.0 average in seven 18-hole tournaments this spring. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Despite not qualifying the team for the Section 8AA tournament, head coach Jeff Anderson liked the improvement the Park Rapids boys golf team made this spring.

Seniors Luke Kosel and Blake Higgins; juniors Bjorn Jorgenson and Cody Dravis; sophomore Kaelan Emerson; and freshmen Tate Usher and Jaden Powers led the way this season with Kosel, Jorgenson, Dravis and Usher returning as starters.

In five 18-hole tournaments, the Panthers had a 354.0 average with Jorgenson and Dravis capping off the season by qualifying for the Section 8AA tournament.

Park Rapids opened the season by placing sixth out of seven teams at the Detroit Lakes Invitational at Lakeview Golf Course. Jorgenson and Usher carded 78s, Kosel and Dravis carded 88s, Emerson had an 89 and Higgins carded a 100 for a 332 on the par-64 course. Brainerd took first with a 271.

At the Park Rapids Invitational at Headwaters Golf Club, Usher's 79, Jorgenson's 87, Kosel's 90 and Emerson's 95 led to a 351 for a share of sixth place out of 16 teams. Dravis' 101 and Higgins' 106 rounded out the Panthers' varsity lineup. Detroit Lakes topped the field with a 303.

Crookston carded a 318 to lead the field at the 15-team Bemidji Invitational at the Bemidji Town & Country Club. The Panthers finished 11th with a 349 behind Jorgenson's 83, Dravis' 88, and a pair of 89s by Usher and Emerson. Powers carded a 100 and Higgins carded a 101.

Detroit Lakes captured the Mid-State Conference title for the 25th year in a row by firing a 314 at The Preserve. Park Rapids took fifth out of six teams with a 353 as Jorgenson earned all-conference honors with a 78. Usher's 86, Kosel's 91, Dravis' 98 and Higgins' 110 completed the Panthers' varsity lineup. Park Rapids carded a season-best 340 for third place at last season's conference meet.

Park Rapids prepared for the subsection meet by placing third out of seven teams at the Pre-Section 8AA North tournament at Blueberry Pines. Jorgenson's 75, Usher's 85, Emerson's 92 and Dravis' 95 led the Panthers to a 347. Powers and freshman Alex Nordin added 102s. Roseau finished first with a 320.

At the Section 8AA North tournament at Blueberry Pines, the Panthers finished sixth out of eight teams with a 370 as Jorgenson (85) and Dravis (88) qualified as individuals for the section tournament. Kosel carded a 97 and Emerson carded a 100 while junior Christoffer Madsen carded a 131. Roseau won the subsection title with a 338 while East Grand Forks (349) and Warroad (353) claimed the other section berths. The Panthers finished sixth last season with a 360.

Detroit Lakes won the Section 8AA title at the Bemidji Town & Country Club for the third year in a row with a two-day total of 617 with Fergus Falls (652), Roseau (666), East Grand Forks (667), Barnesville (674) and Warroad (682) following. Jorgenson finished 17th overall with rounds of 78 and 88 for 166 while Dravis finished 32nd overall with rounds of 88 and 89 for a 177. East Grand Forks' Nate Deziel earned medalist honors with a 142 and went on to win the state Class AA title. Detroit Lakes was the state Class AA runner-up with a 603 to trail Holy Family Catholic's 600.

Jorgenson led the Panthers with an 82.0 average in seven rounds on par-72 courses while Usher followed with an 84.8 average in four rounds. Dravis had a 92.4 average in seven rounds, Kosel finished with a 92.7 average in three rounds, Emerson had a 94.0 average in four rounds and Higgins had a 105.7 average in three rounds.

The Panthers easily repeated as Northern Pines Conference champs by winning five of the eight nine-hole rounds, tying for first in another and placing second in the other two. Because of the late start to the season, the conference changed format by having 18-hole rounds at four sites instead of 9-hole rounds at six sites.

In the conference opener at Headwaters Golf Club, the Panthers fired a 175 to finish behind Walker-Hackensack-Akeley's 173 on the front side. Jorgenson and Usher carded 40s, Kosel fired a 46, and Dravis and Emerson had 47s to comprise Park Rapids' runner-up four-golfer score. Higgins added a 49. On the back side, Jorgenson claimed medalist honors with a 35 while Usher's 41, Dravis' 46, and a pair of 51s by Kosel and Emerson led to a 173 for first place. Higgins added a 55.

At Blueberry Pines in the second conference meet, the Panthers took first with a 178 on the front side and a 176 on the back side. Usher carded a 37 to earn medalist honors and was joined by Jorgenson's 43 and a pair of 49s by Emerson and Higgins on the front side while Jorgenson's 40 led the field on the back side as Usher's 43, Higgins' 46 and Kosel's 47 rounded out the Panthers' team score. Dravis had a pair of 54s while Emerson carded a 56 on the back nine.

Park Rapids also led the field at Tianna Country Club with rounds of 172 and 175 in the third conference meet. On the front nine, Jorgenson claimed medalist honors with a 39 while Usher's 41 and a pair of 46s by Dravis and Kosel rounded out the team score. Emerson had a 49 and Powers carded a 53. On the back side, Usher's 41, Jorgenson's 42 and a pair of 46s by Dravis and Kosel led the way. Emerson carded a 50 and Powers added a 52.

In the final conference meet at Castle Highlands, the Panthers tied W-H-A for first on the front side with a 168 and followed with a 167 to trial W-H-A's 161 on the back side. Jorgenson carded a 38 to earn medalist honors on the front side with 42s by Usher and Emerson and a 46 by Kosel comprising the team score. Dravis had a 48 and Powers had a 49. On the back side, Jorgenson's 39, 42s by Usher and Powers, and 44s by Kosel and Emerson led the way as Dravis added a 47.

Jorgenson was the overall medalist in NPC play with a 39.2 nine-hole average with 235 strokes in his top six rounds. Usher tied for second with a 39.7 average with 238 strokes in his top six rounds. Both earned spots on the Northern Pines Conference First Team. Earning Second Team honors were Kosel with 275 strokes (45.8 average), Dravis with 280 strokes (46.7 average) and Emerson with 281 strokes (46.8 average).

In all eight conference meets, Jorgenson led the way with a 40.0 nine-hole average while Usher was second with a 40.4 average. Kosel had a 47.6 average, Emerson had a 48.5 average and Dravis had a 48.5 average. Powers had a 49.0 average in four rounds and Higgins had a 49.8 average in four rounds.

Kosel, Dravis and Jorgenson served as captains this season. Emerson was the Most Dedicated while Madsen was named Most Improved.

"The season was pretty much what I expected. We didn't fare that well in the Mid-State and we didn't have a better score than last year, which surprised me. I figured we'd win the Northern Pines and I fully expected Bjorn, Cody, Tate and Kaelen would have chances to get to sections," said Anderson. "I saw a lot of improvement from the younger kids. If these kids play a lot this summer, I foresee us sneaking into the section tournament next year."