Girls golf: Minnewaska's state title bid falls a stroke short
A year after missing out on the state tournament for the first time in 13 years, the Minnewaska girls golf team almost got back atop the Class AA field.
The Bluejackets, which is the new team nickname of the program after Minnewaska joined forces with Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa this spring in golf, are right up there with the most dominant girls programs in the state with five titles.
They almost got another one but were forced to settle for second on Wednesday afternoon at the Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan. They fell by just one stroke with a 647 to Red Wing after leading after the opening round.
Minnewaska-BBE shot a 313 on day one of the two-day tournament on Tuesday. That left the Bluejackets six shots ahead of Red Wing. Minnewaska-BBE followed that up with a 334 on day two as the Wingers stormed back with a 327 to secure the championship behind a dominant medalist performance from senior Sophia Yoemans with a two-day, 6-under par 138.
The Bluejackets were led by three players in the top 10. Junior Jacqueline Gossen shot a 1-over par 73 on day one, but finished with an 88 on day two for a 161 that left her tied for 10th.
Madi McGinty was seventh overall with a 157 (78, 79). Emily Harste tied Gossen for 10th with a 161 (81, 80). Annika Stensrud tied for 20th with a 168 (81, 87), while Greta Reichmann (89, 94 - 183) and Berkley Steffen (101, 89 - 190) rounded out the Bluejackets’ lineup.
“We stressed in our practice rounds that so many teams lose tournaments by three-putting and our big thing was to keep the ball by the hole and they did a good job of that today,” Minnewaska-BBE coach Tony Janu told Nick Hunter of the Minnesota Golf Association after round one.
Even for a program with so much history of success, Janu said early this season that he was not placing expectations on his team after missing out on the state tournament a year ago.
His goal for his players was to take one meet at a time and get incrementally better as the season progressed. He said in an interview with the Echo Press on April 24 that if they did that, this team could be in position to make it back to the state tournament. The Bluejackets not only did that, but they rode that gameplan all the way to a runner-up finish.
“We combined this season with BBE so this is our first year with our new logo and our new team, so we had zero expectations,” Janu told Hunter at the state meet. “We didn’t know where we were going to be at, but we knew we had some players. As the season went on, we progressively got better and our expectations got a little higher and the girls really wanted to get here.”
Osakis golfers Lexi Dirkes and Kadyn Triebenbach were also at the Class AA state meet on Tuesday and Wednesday as they competed as individuals in the field.
Dirkes shot a 90 on day one and an 89 on day two to finish tied for 32nd with a 179. Triebenbach shot a 94 on the first day and an 89 in round two to finish at 183, tying her for 41st.
“It was a wet start,” Osakis head coach Chris Grove said of the weather players faced on day one. “The girls had to warm up in the rain and it rained most of the first nine holes. Kadyn still turned in a nice 44 on the front. Lexi got things rolling on the back nine, parring five of them, and finished the back with a 42.”
Both players will be back with plenty of experience in the Osakis lineup next season. Dirkes was a junior this spring, while Triebenbach qualified for the state tournament as a sophomore.