Girls' golf: Minnewaska's Falk reflects on Lakers' amazing runSuccess is still plentiful for Laker girls' golf team
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Minnewaska girls’ golf program has become the gold standard of Minnesota high school golf in the last five years.
During that time, the Lakers have shattered almost every state record in the books, regardless of class. Minnewaska won a record fifth straight state title last year and extended its winning streak to an incredible 78 events on its way to a strong start again this season.
That streak finally came to an end last Wednesday when the Lakers finished third at the Alexandria Invite. It marked the first time Minnewaska has been defeated since May 15, 2006 when the Lakers finished second to Albany at a meet in Melrose.
Head coach Peggy Falk took time to reflect on the streak and answer some questions on what it meant to this program and how the Lakers have been able to maintain such a strong level of dominance.
Q: As the numbers got up there and the years passed, how much did you guys talk about the streak on the team?
A: The streak was important to the girls, but it really wasn’t a topic of conversation until the golf season was over. Our overall goal each year was always just to get to state. That was really the only thing that mattered.
Q: Every athlete strives to be at the top of their game on a consistent basis. How impressed are you by the ability of your players to never have a setback that cost this team a meet?
A: Players did have setbacks, but we have been so deep for so many years that if someone had a bad round, there was always someone else stepping up. The girls are great athletes, involved in other sports, which helps with their ability to compete at higher levels and handle the pressure.
Q: What do you think has been the key to that consistency throughout the years?
A: The key has been great support from parents, an excellent swing instructor (Minnewaska Golf Club head pro Scott Dirck), a group of girls who are passionate, determined and dedicated to golf, support from our AD (Bill Mills), and a coach that has expectations, holds them accountable and loves them. It’s been a complete team effort over the years that has been the key to our success.
Q: This program has become the gold standard of girls’ golf in Minnesota, regardless of class. What does that mean to you and the girls who have been a part of leading this program to that level?
A: I’ve told the girls the past few years that they have been a big part of the growing success of girls’ golf in Minnesota. Other girls, parents and coaches have seen what our girls have done to get where they are – off-season lessons, summer tournaments, scheduling the best invites during the season.
All but one of our graduates is now playing at Division I (Chelsey Falk, Emily Roering, Sarah Roering, Courtney Boe) and Division II schools (Allie Ostrander). Sam Falk, our only senior this year, is going to Gustavus [Adolphus] (DIII) to play golf. Gustavus is usually ranked in the top five nationally.
I’ve had many coaches and parents over the years inquire about what our girls are doing to be so good. Without giving away too many secrets, I’ve told them it takes a lot of dedication and work from the girls and parents.
Like I said in the previous questions, it takes a team effort. There are a lot more younger girls taking lessons and playing in summer MGA and PGA events now. We’re seeing more and more teams with depth instead of just one or two top players.
We’re also seeing more and more younger girls with talent, and more and more girls that want to get to a higher level and play college golf. It’s been so much fun to be a part of, and I think our girls feel pretty proud of the fact they’re part of it too.
Q: What were the feelings like around the team when you realized that the winning streak had come to an end against Red Wing and Wayzata last Wednesday?
A: Most of the girls were pretty upset. They felt like they let the previous teammates down. We told them they’ve been part of making history in Minnesota golf that will be in the record books forever. Their record now is 78-1. There aren’t many athletes in Minnesota, let alone the whole country, that can say that.
Q: It seems like an almost unbreakable record. Do you feel this mark will ever be broken or even approached?
A: It’s so hard to say. According to our AD, our record is the third best in the country. I think it’ll be tough, but you just never know.
Q: Red Wing pushed you guys a little at the state tournament a year ago, and the Wingers have another deep team this year. Do you still feel Minnewaska is the team to beat in Class AA as you go for a sixth straight state championship?
A: We knew Red Wing was going to be tough this year. They’ve built a solid team the past few years, and they have six solid players and a great coach. They will be tough, but we are still pretty tough, too. We have a pretty talented team with a lot of determination. I wouldn’t count us out. We are looking forward to a good battle at state.