Minnewaska-BBE girls eyeing bright future after fourth place finish at state

The Minnewaska-BBE girls were ultimately frustrated with finishing fourth at the Class AA state tournament, but are excited about returning five golfer's to next-year's squad with high expectations.

Paige Rupp chips towards the ninth green in the Class AA girls golf tournament on June 16, 2021. Rupp's two-day score of 204 helped Minnewaska-BBE finish fourth as a team at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Minnewaska-Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa had its sights set on a top-three finish in the Class AA girls golf tournament. After falling short of the ultimate goal, head coach Tony Janu is hoping frustrations turn into lessons.

The Bluejackets finished fourth in the eight-team field with a two-day score of 732. Janu noted that the season was a success overall, but left Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan with something to be desired.

"We didn't play very well, but we've come a long way since the first day of practice," Janu said. "I'm happy for the girls. They worked hard and got better and better every day. They made it down here, and I'm happy for them. But I think they were a little disappointed. Once they got here, they realized they could get to the podium. We just got nixed. That happens. It's golf."

Annika Stensrud (right) and Minnewaska-BBE head coach Tony Janu read the ninth green on June 16 2021. Stensrud took fourth place individually with a two-day score of 161 in the Class AA girls golf state tournament at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)


Senior Annika Stensrud not only led the Bluejackets with the low two-day score of 161, but she also took fourth individually. Perham's Malory Belka ran away with first place with a score of 148– beating Lake City's Jordana Windhorst-Knudsen by nine strokes.

"We came in thinking (Stensrud) could win it if she played her best. Then this girl from Perham shoots like a 148 or something, which is just an incredible score," Janu said. "Annika didn't have her best, but she's still a phenomenal player. She carried us all year."

Stensrud's shoes will be tough to fill as the lone senior for this team. Her low scores and team-first mentality helped grow the team into a state contender.

"She put that leader badge on the day we had our first practice," Janu said. "She never took it off. She brought it to practice every day and uplifted her teammates. She's just an all-around solid kid."

Not too far behind Stensrud was junior Berkley Steffan, who shot a 173. With Stensrud graduating, Janu sees Steffan's leadership qualities moving to the forefront next spring.

Arivia DeBoer hits an approach shot to the green at the Class AA state tournament at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan on June 16, 2021. DeBoer finished with a two-day score of 194 in her first state tournament. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

"She's already become that leader a little bit," Janu said. "We're looking forward to big things from Berk next year. Looking at the scores she shot in this tournament, we know she's 10 shots better than that. It just wasn't our week. We were just a little off."


Even if Minnewaska brought its "A" game, it would've been tough to knock off the girls from Lake City. The Tigers took home the state championship with a team score of 673. Providence Academy (717) was a distant second in front of Fergus Falls (727).

"To finish better than second, Lake City would've had to collapse both days, and they didn't," Janu said. "They rose to the occasion. They played very well and are well-deserving of the championship."

One of the more impressive performances from Minnewaska came from eighth-grader Arivia DeBoer, who shot a 194. Janu is excited for her to be a focal point for the Bluejackets going forward.

Berkley Steffen hits out of the rough on next to the ninth fairway on June 16, 2021. Steffen had Minnewaska-BBE's second lowest two -day score at the Class AA state meet with a 173. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

"You're going to hear a lot about her in the next few years," Janu said. "Arivia comes from a family of golfers, and she's going to be great. She was disappointed today. I just told her, 'You're in eighth grade, and this is your first state tournament. What you did was amazing.' We're very proud of her, and she's got a bright future."

The Bluejackets will return five of its golfers next spring as they hope to defend their Section 3AA crown. Gaining the experience of winning a section tournament and competing for a state championship is something Janu hopes will push his girls to repeat similar success.

"We definitely expect to be back here next year," Janu said. "I have two seventh-graders that are going to be good as well. The future for Minnewaska golf is bright. Unless, for some reason, our section changes and we get moved out. Just looking at the teams this year and where they're coming into next year, I think we can get back to state."


Alissa Thorfinnson hits a fairway shot towards the green in Minnewaska-BBE's fourth-place finish at the Class AA state girls golf tournament at Ridges at Sand Creek on June 16, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

"Experience is really what this week was about in the end," Janu said. "When you get here on this stage, everything is a learning experience. If they do get back here, they're going to know how to prepare. They already know how to prepare for the section tournament. They proved that by winning it. They know what they have to do. We're just excited for next year, and we hope we can get back."

MINNEWASKA INDIVIDUAL SCORES (PAR 144)- Annika Stensrud 161, Berkeley Steffan 173, Arivia DeBoer 194, Paige Rupp 204, Alissa Thorfinnson 229, Morgan Schwinghammer 234

TWO-DAY TEAM SCORES- 1st- Lake City 673, 2nd- Providence Academy 717, 3rd- Fergus Falls 727, 4th- Minnewaska-BBE 732, 5th- Pequot Lakes 734, 6th- St. Croix Lutheran Academy 737, 7th- Fairmont 763, 8th- Hermantown 808

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
What To Read Next
Get Local