Alexandria flexes depth in home meet win at AGC, Cardinals eyeing larger goals
The Alexandria girls golf team battled five other schools on Wednesday morning at the Alexandria Golf Club to win the first of two home meets this season.
Alexandria girls golf head coach Tim Zupfer took a step back on Wednesday and thought about how long it's been since his team won a home invite at the Alexandria Golf Club.
The Cardinals usually have some of the top teams in the state at their AGC invites that include more than just Central Lakes Conference programs. It was not quite as packed of a field this year due to smaller tournaments in place during the pandemic, but it felt good for these players to defend their home course and win their third straight meet to start the season.
Alexandria's team score of 320 was 15 strokes better than second-place Detroit Lakes in a six-team field. The Cardinals were led by junior Cora Larson and her score of 78. Her seven pars and one birdie were enough to land the second-best score in the field.
"It feels good because everybody pulled through today," Larson said. "Ball striking was iffy for me today, but it's been good overall. I'm happy with my short game, but it could still be better."
Right behind Larson was sophomore Aisling O'Connor, who tied for third place with a 79. She led all Cardinal golfers with 12 pars. O'Connor's 79 was a career-best.
Junior Lauren Rebrovich (80) and sophomore Hannah Boraas (83) sealed the first-place finish. Boraas, who is typically slated as one of Alexandria's top competitors, led the team in birdies.
"If you would've told me that Hannah would be our fourth golfer today without giving me the score, I would've said we were in trouble," Zupfer said. "When your fourth score is an 83, and it's typically your number one or two player, that's a good place to be."
Rounding out the top six for the Cardinals were Isabella Hagen and Rachel Bowen. Hagen shot a 99 with a season-high three pars. Bowen's 101 was highlighted with one par.
Alexandria's depth has shown in its first three meets of the season. With three wins already under their belts, Zupfer is already seeing growth from two years ago.
"A lot of these girls have two or three years of experience," Zupfer said. "Now, they're sophomores and juniors, and you can really see the maturity when they're able to bounce back from a tough hole or two."
All of Alexandria's team-scoring golfers placed in the top 10 individually. The Cardinals' consistency throughout their lineup takes the pressure to perform at an elite level off the shoulders of the top players.
"I know Hannah was a little disappointed in her play," Zupfer said. "I told her after the round that her teammates are playing really well behind her. She doesn't have to have that big burden on her back to go low every time."
What makes the Cardinals' start to the season even more impressive is it's happening without a senior in the lineup. The leadership-by-committee mentality has created a fun atmosphere for Alexandria golfers up and down the roster.
Larson was named the captain before the season. But Zupfer said that each of the top four girls has taken on leadership responsibilities.
"It's really nice to see us all pulling for each other like this," Larson said. "One person can pick up for somebody else on any given day. It's fun to see us go back-and-forth like this to play well as a team."
With each win, the hopes of winning a section championship grow. Alexandria lost the 2018 and 2019 state tournament bid by one stroke in both meets. Zupfer believes this team could get over the hump come playoff time if his girls maintain consistency in big moments.
"I'm trying to take it one meet at a time," Zupfer said. "To qualify for state is a big goal for these girls. They've been so close, but Detroit Lakes and Brainerd have nice squads. It's possible we could play well, and one of those teams could play better. When the pressure is on in those short-game situations, getting those chips close and making those puts from five feet or closer has been and will be the difference."
Minnewaska-BBE takes fourth
Annika Stensrud and Berkey Steffen led Minnewaska-Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa to a team score of 370, which was good enough for fourth place.
Stensrud's 79 was tied for third in the field, while Steffen took ninth with an 85. Paige Rupp (101) was third amongst the team, while Arivia DeBoer shot a 105. Morgan Schwinghammer (106) and Alissa Thorfinnson (109) rounded out the six Minnewaska-BBE golfers.
Taking first in the field was Detroit Lakes' McKenna Mallow with a 76. Hannah Knoop Also tied for third with a 79, while Laure Syltie finished in 10th with an 89 for the Lakers.
1st- Alexandria 320, 2nd- Detroit Lakes 335, 3rd- Wayzata 355, 4th- Minnewaska-BBE 370, 5th- St. Cloud Cathedral 407, 6th- Moorhead 409
INDIVIDUAL TOP TEN
1st- McKenna Mallow (Detroit Lakes) 76, 2nd- Cora Larson (Alexandria) 78, T-3rd- Aisling O’Connor (Alexandria), Hannah Knoop (Detroit Lakes), Annika Stensrud (Minnewaska-BBE) 79, T-6th- Lauren Rebrovich (Alexandria), Saschi Deshmukh (Wayzata) 80, 8th- Hannah Boraas (Alexandria) 83, 9th- Berkey Steffan (Minnewaska-BBE) 85, 10th- Laura Syltie (Detroit Lakes) 89