Golf: Alexandria girls golf team repeats as Class AAA state champs to earn program's fifth state title
Alexandria tops Maple Grove once more.
COON RAPIDS - With all of its roster back from the 2021 Class AAA State Championship winning team , the expectation the Alexandria girls golf program had for itself and felt from others was that it should win another title in 2022.
Alexandria didn’t back down from the challenge of having a target on its back, as it won the 2022 MSHSL Class AAA Girls State Tournament by 16 strokes with a two-day score of 628 over Maple Grove (644) at Bunker Hills Golf Club (Par 72).
“It was probably more challenging this year because we had the target on our back,” head coach Tim Zupfer said. “A lot of people knew about us last year, but I’m not sure that we had the notoriety coming in. But this year, we were ranked number one from day one.”
That pressure is something the Cardinals knew was there, but it was also something that they dealt with handily.
“The expectations were for sure there, but we have a good, talented group of girls that all like to put in time and effort,” senior co-captain Lauren Rebrovich said. “We are a little bit harder on ourselves, but at the end of the day, it all pays off. We all just cheer each other on and hope for the best. We got what we wanted and we couldn't be any happier.”
In addition to winning its fifth state title, Alexandria also won the program’s second at the Class AAA level and it's the second time in program history where the team has won back-to-back titles (1977 and 1978 was the first time).
The Cardinals jumped out to a nine-stroke lead with a score of 318 on Tuesday and despite a lightning delay late in the afternoon, the Cardinals' momentum wasn’t stopped. They posted the lowest round of the day in round two with a score of 310.
Alexandria’s win was similar to how it won the 2021 state title. On day one of the 2021 state tournament, Alexandria posted a 319, followed by a 303 on day two.
“The pressure was even on to get back here,” Zupfer said. “We polished off the season and ended it without a meet loss, which was pretty nice.”
Larson, a North Dakota State commit, led the Cardinals on the leaderboard individually with a sixth place finish (146 - 75, 71). She finished ninth in the 2021 state tournament.
“Cora Larson was lights out,” Zupfer said. “What a great way to go out as a senior.”
Blaine's Kathryn VanArragon, a junior, won the individual title by two strokes after shooting a 65, 70 for a two-day score of 135.
Rebrovich, a Minnesota State University-Mankato commit, was Alexandria’s third scorer with a score of 161 (80, 81).
Junior Hannah Boraas came within a stroke of winning a medal (finishing top eight), as she finished 10th with a two-day score of 150 (76, 74). As a sophomore, Boraas had placed ninth in the 2021 state tournament.
“She had a couple up and downs throughout her round, but she was never more than two over at any point,” Zupfer said. “When you post close to 71 (Larson) and a 74 (Boraas) and have solid players behind them, that's really tough for teams to match.”
Junior Aisling O’Connor was the Cardinals' fourth scorer of the tournament as she finished with a score of 171 (87, 84).
Freshman Rachel Bowen shot a combined 176 (91, 85) at the tournament, while 8th-grader Ellie Sticha posted a 184 (92, 92).
While the Cardinals didn’t lose a meet all season, there was a bump in the road at the Section 8AAA Championship as Brainerd had a seven-stroke lead on them after day one.
“We've got a very difficult section with two fabulous teams in Detroit Lakes and Brainerd,” Zupfer said. “I would say probably the biggest adversity was being down seven shots after the first day and having to come back and make that up on the second day.”
In terms of how they responded to that deficit, senior co-captain Cora Larson’s answer was simple — hit the ball more.
“We responded after the first day of sections by going to the golf course to get in more practice that night,” Larson said. “Then we just really kept it shot by shot and didn't think too far ahead of ourselves.”
Alexandria went on to win the section title by 14 strokes.
After it was all said and done on Wednesday, Larson had just three words to summarize the emotion of it all, “It’s truly unbelievable.”
Rebrovich had similar words.
“It's pretty unreal,” Rebrovich said. “It’s just a great way to end my senior year with a bunch of fun girls and the dream team that we describe ourselves as. It's just super fun; I’m super excited and just so happy.”
Zupfer said that they had a team banquet before that state tournament and that Larson and Boraas were named co-MVPs.
Bowen and Sticha were named as the most improved players.
These two appear to be a part of a growing youth movement that Zupfer had talked about at the beginning of the season.
“I'm real happy with how that part of the year went,” Zupfer said. “We had 20 players out this year, which was almost double the number of players we had out last year. We consistently had a JV team that had three or four scores at nine-hole meets under 50. Some of those players aren't that far away from contributing. With three seniors graduating that were on one of our state championship teams. We're going to need some work. We're going to need some of those kids to be part of our varsity next year.”
Alexandria will lose Larson, Rebrovich and Isabella Hagen to graduation.
“They don't get rattled,” Zupfer said about the seniors. “Even though their teammates aren’t playing right there next to him, they see how they carry themselves. The consistency of play that we've got out of those players just kind of takes the pressure off everybody else. They were good as far as encouraging their teammates, especially leading the younger ones.”