The Alexandria girls golf team has been a model of consistency all season, and that did not change on the biggest stage this week.
The Cardinals do not have a senior in their top six, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t experienced. This is a group that takes golf seriously in the offseason and plays a lot of competitive tournaments in the summer.
That experience shined all year. First to the tune of a Central Lakes Conference championship. Then a Section 8-3A title. Now they can add a state championship to their legacy after winning the Class AAA tournament with a two-day team score of 622.
“It’s a perfect time for us to put it together,” sophomore Hannah Boraas said. “Every time I looked down the fairway, I saw smiles. It’s awesome to put Alexandria on the map and show these cities teams who we are.”
Alexandria shot a four-person team score of 319 on day one at the Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids on Tuesday. That left the Cardinals two shots back of Maple Grove, but Alexandria grabbed control early in round two on Wednesday and did not look back.
The Cardinals won by tying a school-record score of 303 on day two. Junior Cora Larson (75, 75 -- 150), Boraas (75, 76 -- 151), junior Lauren Rebrovich (83, 75 -- 158), and sophomore Aisling O’Connor (86, 77 -- 163) all scored in the 70s to run away from second-place Maple Grove by 22 strokes. Junior Isabella Hagen (97, 95 -- 192) and 8th-grader Rachel Bowen (100, 101 -- 201) finished off Alexandria’s top six.
“I liked our position coming into the second day,” Alexandria head coach Tim Zupfer said. “I’d have been happy with anything better than 320. At one point we were pushing close to coming in under 300, but to shoot 303 on this golf course in this environment, it couldn’t be any more special. Having your kids play their best golf on the last day of the season is every coach’s dream.”
Larson and Boraas both said they played with an appreciation for being here this week. This group of players knows how special that is after dropping the Section 8-3A tournament by one stroke in 2018 and by a fifth-score tiebreaker in 2019 before a 2020 season full of promise was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It feels crazy,” Larson said. “We were all talking earlier that we went from heartbreak so many times at that section meet. Obviously, it happened for a reason. We might be on cloud nine here for the next week.”
Larson and Boraas have been near the top of leaderboards all season, and they were again at Bunker Hills. Larson tied for ninth individually, while Boraas was 11th. Rebrovich (19th) and O’Connor (31st) shooting in the 70s in round two was vital for this team’s ability to win a title.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” Boraas said. “The fact they pulled through and we could rely on them more than we have before is amazing. Me and Cora are both so proud of them for being up there. Seeing them smiling down the fairway, we knew they were doing good and it takes the pressure off both me and Cora. We couldn’t be happier.”
It’s the Cardinals’ first team state championship at the Class AAA level but fourth overall after also winning championships in 1977, 1978 and 1992 (AA).
“You can have players that are of this caliber, but to have everyone step it up and play that well on the same day is what it requires,” Zupfer said. “To put four scores between 75 and 77 is pretty impressive.”
The win on Wednesday adds to Alexandria’s history as one of the top programs in the state. In addition to their now four state titles, the Cardinals have finished second seven times.
That happens by consistently knocking on the door, and Alexandria is tied with Edina for the most state tournament appearances with 21.
“I looked back and I think we hadn’t had the team here since 2014,” Zupfer said. “That meant we had five consecutive years of finishing second in the section. To finally get back here and win it all was pretty special.”
It cements this year’s team right near the top with some of the best to come through this program, and there is an opportunity for more. Without a senior in this group, the Cardinals will enter the 2022 season as one with big expectations.
“It will make us practice every day and work even harder,” Boraas said of jumping into a summer tournament schedule soon. “I know that Alexandria is such a good community, and we’ll all get together and practice all the time.”
Nothing will come easy next season. Both Brainerd and Detroit Lakes return a lot of talent in the section, but this is a competitive group.
“Every single day at practice we’re pushing each other,” Larson said. “We’re doing competitions. We all want to win.”
That drive led to a special week for these players at Bunker Hills. It will lead them into the offseason with plenty of hope for the future.
“Knowing the girls the way I do, they’re going to continue to work at it,” Zupfer said. “There’s no guarantee. A lot happens between now and a year from now. Some younger kids from other programs develop a whole bunch. There’s no givens, but certainly we have a team that’s going to be competitive next year.”
CLASS AAA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
FINAL TWO-DAY TEAM SCORES - Alexandria - 622; Maple Grove - 644; Edina - 652; Eden Prairie - 659; Eastview - 674; Stillwater Area - 677; Lakeville North - 687; St. Michael-Albertville - 698
TOP-FIVE INDIVIDUALS (Par 144) - Reese McCauley, Simley -- 139; Olivia Salonek -- 140; Camille Kuznik, Orono -- 144; Kathryn VanArragon, Blaine -- 145; Kyra Venne, East Ridge -- 145