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Girls Golf: Lake City makes state for first time since 2006

It took a few tries, but the Lake City girls golf team got the best of Stewartville when it mattered.

Finishing behind Stewartville in seven meets in the last two seasons, including last year's Section 1AA championship, Lake City finally bested Stewartville to qualify for the Class 2A state meet for the fourth time in school history and the first time since 2006.

"I thought we were well-prepared for it," Lake City head coach Steve Randgaard said of the section finale May 30. "We've gotten second place in our section for the last six years in a row. We've had some tough teams to face. It's nice to get up there and edge a team that went last year."

Lake City lost by one stroke to Stewartville at last season's section meet, the fourth time Stewartville won against Lake City that year, and Lake City dropped three more this season before the May 30 meet.

"Each time we got better," Randgaard said. "I think they felt that, 'Hey, we can stay with these guys.' The confidence thing is so big with these girls. We didn't win the conference but we at least knew we could beat them."

Lake City has finished runner-up at the second meet 16 times in Randgaard's 27 years as coach.

"We're just excited to have an opportunity," he said. "That's the name of the game here; we've been in the hunt."

Now, Lake City will get an opportunity to test its mettle against the top teams in the state at Tuesday's Class 2A meet at the Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, Minn. Lake City's six golfers will be in the same group with Detroit Lakes, Minnewaska and Pequot Lakes, the top three ranked teams in the state.

"We wanted to get in the top four after the first day," Randgaard said. "But we must have gotten a decent seed or something and they got us in there right away with them so this is going to be good because they're going to be playing with quality players. I think a lot of times you play to the level of your competition."

Katy Bolduc and Emily Schimbeno are two players with experience at the state tournament. Bolduc, a senior, said she is helping the younger players get up to speed with the atmosphere at the state meet.

"We've been able to give a little bit of advice to the other girls how state is," she said. "Just to expect a lot of people watching you. Other meets there's only your parents, where at state there's spectators. It's a lot different because there's that pressure of people watching you."

Bolduc and Schimbeno also know the difficulty of playing at The Ridges, a high yardage and uphill course. Lake City took part in practice rounds at the course last week, on Thursday and will go again on Monday.

"Seeing it before, I know what holes I'm not really confident in," Bolduc said. "That there's always that possibility of it happening again and I know how to prepare for practice rounds. There are just some holes where you really need to place your tee shot."

Course management and shot selection will be crucial, Randgaard said.

"It's a long course with a lot of uphill Par 4's," he said. "They have to stay out of the rough; I've already talked about being in the short grass because the rough is thick.

"And the greens have got a lot of undulation to them," he added. "They're elevated and some you just can't go over on. ... We're trying to work on staying below the hole as much as possible. It might be the safer shot, up and down, instead of a three-putt on the green. Every shot counts at this level."

Lake City's first golfer will tee off at noon Tuesday.

"We're hoping we can maybe get third at state," Bolduc said. "That's our goal."