Girls Golf: Strong finish puts Wingers back at state
CANNON FALLS - With nine holes to go in Monday's Section 1AAA championship meet, the Red Wing girls' golf team found itself in a fight for first with Lakeville North.
"Lakeville had 39, two 40s and a 46, and with our scores, we had a 166 and they had a 165, so it was almost a tie going into that back nine," said Wingers' head coach Mark Herzog.
But with strong performances after the turn by Stephanie Herzog, Nicole Schammel and Kayla Oberding, Red Wing is headed to its seventh straight state tournament after clinching the section title with a two-day team score of 698 at Cannon Golf Club.
"It was a lot of fun knowing we get to go back there, and we really deserve it," said Oberding, who scored an 89 Monday to tally a two-day total of 181. "We came back (after a tough Day 1) and we did well."
Mark Herzog added, "That was a hard-fought one, for sure. ... This wasn't like last year. Last year we were up 30 shots after Day 1 and came here just to basically get the trophy on the second day. We didn't have that this year. It was pretty stressful to watch."
Lakeville North was second with 721, Rochester Mayo had 730 and Northfield rounded out the top four with 731.
Coming into Monday's finale, the Wingers were in a tie for the team lead with Northfield with 356. Rochester Mayo and Lakeville North sat just three strokes away, adding a sense of urgency for Red Wing's quest for another state berth.
"We knew the teams were going to be pretty close this year," said eighth-grader Stephanie Herzog, who took medalist honors with a two-day score of 159. "We were just glad that after the first day, although the score wasn't very good, that we could stay tied so we had a chance."
Clinging onto the lead after the first nine holes, Red Wing had to hunker down on a back nine riddled with water hazards. But things looked promising early on for the Wingers' top two players: Herzog and Schammel.
"Stephanie birdies 10, which is a hard hole, and Nicole birdies 12, which is another hard hole," Mark Herzog said "Those two just stepped up, and Kayla came in with a great score both days."
After carding a 39 on the front nine, Stephanie Herzog paced Red Wing in the final nine holes for a score of 40, finishing the final day with a 7-over par 79.
"I knew we were kind of tied, or pretty close (in the back nine)," Stephanie Herzog said. "But I feel like I'm good under pressure; I don't really get too nervous."
Schammel's back nine was nearly as strong, carding a team-best 39 on the back to finish with an 81 on Monday.
"If you just buckle down and try not to do more than you can do, you can score pretty well and keep away from the high numbers," Schammel said of the final nine holes.
Schammel, who finished in a tie for second with Northfield's Nicole Traxler, finished Monday's round on a high note, sinking a chip shot on 18 for eagle.
"I knew it was an uphill chip, so I could be aggressive with it," Schammel said. "Right when it came off my club, I knew it was going to be a pretty good shot, but I didn't really expect it to go in."
After a 92 on Day 1, Oberding started off with a 43 on the front nine, finishing Monday's round with an 89. With Lakeville North and Northfield struggling to finish their rounds, Oberding was able to keep her ball dry and put up another stellar score.
"Just staying out of the water was key," Oberding said of the back nine. "That was my only goal. Stay out of the water and hit it straight."
Mark Herzog said. "(Oberding's round) was a nice surprise. She hit the ball more solid, and she made nice putts today. Three-, four- and five-footers, you make enough of those, you're in good shape."
Red Wing senior Maddie Flack carded a 93 on Monday for a two-day score of 193. Reagan Haley had a total of 198, with a 98 on Monday, and Solveig Christenson had a 99 on Monday, with a total of 200.
Traxler (165), Winona's Abbe Partington (170), Mayo's Katrina Ruedinger (172), Lakeville North's Brianna Vetter (176) and Albert Lea's Megan Pulley (177) each qualified for state as individuals. Pulley reached state after winning a three-hole playoff against Lakeville North's Brianna Vetter.
The two-day Class 3A state championship tournament begins on June 11 at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids, Minn.