Many of the players for this year’s Alexandria girls golf team have seen their share of disappointment in tight section tournaments in recent seasons, which is why the way they rallied on June 4 was a little sweeter for this group.
The Cardinals missed going to the state meet by the narrowest of margins in 2018 and 2019. Faced with another close-but-not-quite-close-enough scenario on Friday, the Cardinals didn’t panic. Instead, Alexandria trusted that its four-shot deficit to Brainerd after day one on June 3 in Park Rapids would be tough for the Warriors to repeat.
That proved true as the Cardinals’ two-day total of 630 at the Headwaters Golf Club was enough to beat Brainerd by four strokes to win the Section 8-3A title. It will be the program’s 21st state tournament appearance when Alexandria plays at the Bunker Hills Golf Club June 15-16.
“This was a very special and emotional day for this group of golfers and their coach,” head coach Tim Zupfer said. “Four of these players have endured the heartache of finishing second in the section by one shot in 2018, second in the section by losing via a 5th-score tiebreaker in 2019, and losing a promising season in 2020 to the Covid virus. I believe this group of players has learned a great deal about perseverance.”
Zupfer said he was only a little bit concerned after day one when Brainerd shot a 310. The Cardinals have been pushed by the Warriors all season, but just once before the opening round at sections had Brainerd beat them in an 18-hole meet.
“I was actually pleased with our team score the first day when we shot a 314,” Zupfer said. “Brainerd had a player, (sophomore Izzy Olson), shoot an incredible score of 70, and this was going to be tough to duplicate. I believe Brainerd's score of 310 was also a season best and would be tough to duplicate. We responded very well the second day and shot a very respectable team score of 316.”
Olson shot an 82 for Brainerd in the second round and finished in third place. Cora Larson and Hannah Boraas have been steady for Alexandria all season, so it was fitting that they stepped up and finished with medalist honors in a tight meet after both shot a 147.
Larson shot a 73 on day one and a 74 in round two. Boraas went the exact opposite with a 74 in the first round and a 73 in the second.
“It was a real roller coaster ride for coaches and spectators who were following the live scoring,” Zupfer said. “Early in the second round Brainerd edged a little further ahead. Through five holes, we responded and had things tied with Brainerd. After about nine holes, we had about a 7-8 shot lead. Through 13 holes, the lead was down to 2 shots. We were able to build an 8-shot lead with three holes to play, as Cora and Hannah each birdied the par-3 17th hole. Meanwhile, Aisling O'Connor and Lauren Rebrovich righted the ship and played their final four holes with nothing higher than a bogey on their scorecard.”
Rebrovich finished sixth individually with a 161 (81, 80). O’Connor was Alexandria’s fourth scorer with a 175 (86, 89) to finish 16th.
“Lauren played very steady both days,” Zupfer said. “After a bogey-bogey start the second day, she parred seven of her next eight holes to secure her position individually. Aisling has hit a bit of a rough patch recently with her ball-striking. She battled hard and relied on her short game to post that all-important fourth score for us.”
Rachel Bowen (104, 100 - 204) and Isabella Hagen (103, 101 - 204) both tied in 44th place.
“Isabella and Rachel had hoped to score a little lower, but gained valuable experience,” Zupfer said. “Another full week of practice and two more days of competition will be valuable for them and all of their teammates.”
SECTION 8-3A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM SCORES - Alexandria 314 - 316 = 630; Brained 310 - 324 = 634; Detroit Lakes 319 - 333 = 652; Becker 363 - 365 = 728; Sartell 374 - 372 = 746; Buffalo 378 - 381 = 759; Moorhead 374 - 389 = 763
INDIVIDUAL TOP 10 -- Cora Larson (Alex) 73 - 74 = 147 (Co-medalist); Hannah Boraas (Alex) 74 - 73 = 147 (Co-medalist); Izzy Olson (Brd) 70 - 82 = 152; McKenna Mallow (DL) 75 - 78 = 153; Katie Foley (Brd) 82 - 75 = 157; Lauren Rebrovich (Alex) 81 - 80 = 161; Anna Krieger (Brd) 79 - 83 = 162; Laura Syltie (DL) 81 - 84 = 165; Hanna Knoop (DL) 80 - 85 = 165; Anna Angland (Brd) 79 - 88 = 167