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Card girls' golf: Alex enters rare company

The Cardinal girls' golf team is returning to the state meet for the 19th time in history after winning the Section 8AAA tournament Tuesday afternoon. Members of the team heading to Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids are (left to right) Natalie Amundson, Shelby Iverson, Brynn Novotny, Amanda Bigger, Bridget Amundson and Emily Thul. (Photo by Larry Novotny)

The Alexandria girls' golf team has worn down opponents with its depth all season and nothing changed as the Cardinals ran away with the Section 8-3A title to punch a record-tying 19th trip to the state meet next week.

Alexandria led by just three shots over Buffalo after day one by shooting a 349. Then in some cool and rainy conditions on Tuesday, the Cardinals went 10 shots lower to finish at 688. That was 27 shots better than the Bison, who carded a team score of 363 on Tuesday.

"As I had hoped, the team came ready to play in less than ideal conditions on Tuesday," head coach Tim Zupfer said. "The course was very wet, and we played in a light rain at the beginning and end of our rounds."

With the win, Alexandria tied Elk River for the most appearances as a team at the girls' state golf tournament. Andover advanced out of Elk River's Section 7-3A field this year, meaning the Cards and Elks are now tied at 19 appearances each, according to Minnesota State High School league records.

"To be able to maintain such a consistent presence atop our conference and section has been quite remarkable," Zupfer said. "It is a tribute to the support of our community, the support we get from all of the local golf courses, and the support from the teaching professionals at all of the local golf courses."

Emily Thul led Alexandria over the two days with a third-place finish of 166. She shot an 82 on Tuesday after a round of 84 on Monday.

"Emily certainly had our most consistent performance over the two-day tournament," Zupfer said. "She was really striking the ball well both days, and she really felt like she could have gone even lower. She and Natalie [Amundson] were able to post scores lower than Buffalo's top two state-ranked players on day one and she and Amanda [Bigger] were able to do the same on day two."

Bigger was perhaps the biggest story on day two. She got off to a rough start by carding a 90 on day one but battled back to shoot a tournament-low 78 on day two. That 168 was good for fourth place overall.

"I was really happy for Amanda," Zupfer said. "She has played so well all year and her score on Monday was very frustrating for her. Like a true champion and team leader, she rebounded with a very impressive performance the second day. She still had some struggles but followed up some tough holes with impressive birdies."

Natalie Amundson was sixth overall after shooting 82 on day one and a 91 on day two. Brynn Novotny rebounded from a 94 on day one to shoot Alexandria's third best score on day two with an 88. That 182 was good for 10th place over the two days.

"Natalie really played an awesome round on Monday," Zupfer said. "She found the scoring a little tougher on day two, but played her usual steady game and kept any real big numbers off her scorecard.

"Brynn had a rollercoaster of a round the second day. She had a few holes with some big numbers but managed to play holes 10-14 even-par. She then held it together after a struggle on hole 15. It really helped the team for her to post a round below 90 after a tough 94 the first day."

Shelby Iverson finished 27th overall after carding a 197. Her 93 on day one was the Cardinals' fourth score. Eighth-grader Bridget Amundson took 28th (100, 98, 198) in what was her first experience playing in a section meet.

The Cardinals will now turn their attention to the Class 3A state meet, which will take place June 11-12 at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids. The girls' tournament will tee off from Nos. 1 and 10 at 11:40 a.m. on both mornings.



FINAL TEAM STANDINGS - 1. Alexandria - 349, 339 - 688; 2. Buffalo - 352, 363 - 715; 3. St. Cloud Tech - 363, 369 - 732; 4. Bemidji - 387, 375 - 762; 5. Brainerd - 387, 397 - 784

ALEXANDRIA RESULTS - Thul - third place, 84, 82 - 166; Bigger - fourth place, 90, 78 - 168; N. Amundson - sixth place, 82, 91 - 173; Novotny - 10th place, 94, 88 - 182; Iverson - 27th place, 93, 104 - 197; B. Amundson - 28th, 100, 98 - 198

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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