Having four veterans returning gives head coach Walt Harrison plenty of optimism that the Park Rapids girls golf team will produce another successful season.
Seniors Chloe Johnson, Madison Johnson, Kinley Nordin and Olivia Ulvin return from last year's team that finished third at the Mid-State Conference meet, dominated Northern Pines Conference play to repeat as champs, placed third at the Section 8AA North tournament and finished fourth at the Section 8AA tournament.
Chloe Johnson was second on the team with a 96.7 average in seven 18-hole tournaments and was the overall medalist in Northern Pines Conference play with a 47.3 average to headline the First Team. Johnson carded a 97 at the Mid-State meet, a 95 to lead the Panthers at the Section 8AA North tournament and rounds of 97 and 96 for a 193 to place 18th overall at the Section 8AA tournament.
Madison Johnson was third on the team with a 98.0 average in seven 18-hole tournaments and finished third in Northern Pines Conference play with a 48.5 average to earn a spot on the First Team. Johnson earned all-conference honorable mention honors by carding a 95 at the Mid-State meet and rounded out the Panthers' team score at the subsection meet with a 105. Johnson ended the season with rounds of 95 and 97 at the section meet.
Ulvin placed 11th overall in NPC play with a 55.6 average to earn a spot on the Second Team and compiled a 107.6 average in the seven 18-hole tournaments. Ulvin carded rounds of 114 at the Mid-State meet and 100 at the subsection meet before ending the season with rounds of 100 and 101 at the section meet.
Nordin posted a 110.3 average in the 18-hole tournaments and had a 55.8 average during Northern Pines Conference meets. Nordin posted scores of 116 at the Mid-State meet and 107 at the subsection meet before carding rounds of 111 and 102 at the section meet.
The Panthers carded a 380 at the Mid-State meet as Detroit Lakes won the title with a 324. At the subsection meet, the Panthers carded a 396 to qualify for the section meet. Crookston took first with a 345 and Roseau followed with a 377. At the section meet, the Panthers finished with a two-day total of 761 by following a season-best 375 with a 386. Detroit Lakes carded a 639 to win the section title for the ninth straight year and went on to win the state Class AA title for the third consecutive season.
Helping the Panthers to those scores were last year's senior duo of Olivia Wallace and Olivia McDonald. Wallace led the team with a 93.5 18-hole average and was fourth overall in NPC play with a 48.1 average to earn a spot on the First Team. Wallace ended her high school career with rounds of 90 at the Mid-State meet to earn all-conference honors, 96 at the subsection meet, and 83 and 92 at the section meet. McDonald capped off her senior season with rounds of 99 at the Mid-State meet, 110 at the 8AA North meet, and 101 and 110 at the section meet to finish with a 105.0 18-hole average. In NPC meets, McDonald posted a 52.6 average.
Looking to fill the other two varsity spots are senior Veronica Gauthier; juniors Kora Just and Madison Benham; sophomores Abby Kirlin and Keegan Klein; freshman Emily Schulz; eighth grader Madysen Maninga; and seventh grader Lexi Usher.
"We're off to another late start, so it's hard to tell how we'll do," said Harrison. "We should be solid with our top four. We'll have to fill in the other two spots with young players who have not played varsity before. It's going to take each kid a while to solidify their game, but I'm confident we'll break 400."
With Detroit Lakes the heavy favorite to repeat as Mid-State and Section 8AA champs, Harrison is looking for the Panthers to defend their Northern Pines Conference title, return to the section meet and have at least one individual contend for a state berth.
"Our goal is to win the Northern Pines again and I feel we have a pretty good chance of returning to the section meet. We're going to have to play well, but we're capable of doing it," said Harrison. "It would be nice to get under a 360. I think we can get two girls in the 80s and two more in the 90s to break 360. I also think we have two or three girls capable of going to state if they play well. I'm looking forward to the season."
REMAINING SEASON SCHEDULE
May 6 - Park Rapids Invitational at Headwaters Golf Club, 9:30 a.m. May 7 - Northern Pines Conference meet at Deer River, 5 p.m. May 11- at Staples-Motley Invitational, 9:30 a.m. May 13 - Mid-State Conference meet at Staples, 9 a.m. May 41 - Northern Pines Conference meet at Castle Highlands, 4:30 p.m. May 21 - at Detroit Lakes Invitational, 1 p.m. May 28 - at Section 8AA North tournament at Warroad, 10 a.m.
June 3-4 - Section 8AA meet at Bemidji Town & Country Club, 8 a.m.