At least one team has represented the Brainerd lakes area in the state boys' and girls' golf tournaments since 1995.
The competition is tight this year, but the Pequot Lakes girls and the Staples-Motley boys have the teams to continue the tradition.
S-M won the Mid-Minnesota Conference final Monday at Cuyuna Country Club. On Tuesday, S-M and Pequot tuned up for Thursday's Subsection 6, Class 1A tournament in Fergus Falls at Golden Eagle in Fifty Lakes.
The Patriots, led by Kim Larson and Val Meschke, have competed against 2A schools most of the year, prepping for a battle with Pelican Rapids in the Section 6, Class 1A final.
Pequot, ranked No. 1 in 1A, has advanced to state the last two years. In 2002, in their first state appearance, the Patriots won the title. Last year they finished third.
The Cardinal boys were the first boys' team to compete in the 1A state tournament since Crosby-Ironton won it in 1996.
S-M will be one of the favorites in Section 6 again. Perham and Minnewaska are just two of the teams in S-M's way. Perham, led by Taylor Cavanagh, who finished second in last year's individual state tournament, is considered the favorite.
"In the subsection, Perham and us in our half are the favorites to get out," said S-M coach Glen Hasselberg. "The top two teams go to the section final June 1 in Fergus Falls. Last year, in the subsection, Perham shot a 295 and beat us. Then, at the section, we ended up shooting 299 and Minnewaska snuck into second ahead of Perham.
"My emphasis to the boys is we have to take care of Thursday. We're not necessarily concentrating on being first Thursday, we just want to get to the section final."
Hasselberg mentioned Battle Lake as another contender for the section final. But he stressed that Perham and Minnewaska are "the real deals."
With Travis Wilson, Isaac Landecker, Andrew Murray, Cory Wilson, Derek Orth and Travis Grossman, the Cardinals have more depth than most teams.
"Depth is extremely important to any team," said Hasselberg. "It takes pressure off the other guys. We feel good about our depth. We have six guys who could be in the running. Derek Orth, making all Mid-State Conference at Detroit Lakes, shows we have depth."
Last year, Murray finished 27th individually, Landecker was 44th, Cory Wilson was 50th and Travis Wilson tied for 69th.
W-DC's Michael Grieme is set to return to state. Last year he finished tied for 52nd with a 169. But Section 6 will be a battle. Pequot's Josh Dale and Pillager's Joe Kavanaugh could give the Wolverines' senior a run. Dale and Kavanaugh have been steady junior leaders for their teams.
In the Subsection 1, Section 7, Class 1A tournament Tuesday at Grand National in Hinckley, Joe Bauer of Crosby-Ironton will attempt to get his swing in order. The senior has struggled with adjustments made to his swing, but shot 80 at the Patriot Invitational May 18. At state last year he was tied for 67th.
Look for the Aitkin girls' team to possibly sneak someone in. The Gobblers' most consistent player has been Melissa Welshons.
The Section 5, Class 1A tournament could produce an eighth-grade state participant. Robert Bell of the Pierz Pioneers has been steady, if not spectacular, in his first varsity season. He shot 79 at the Patriot Invitational to finish fourth.
"He might do well," said Pierz coach Leo Pohlkamp. "You have to shoot 80 or lower to get out of the subsection. I just think it will be tough. He's got a chance, along with any kid who's able to hold it together for 18 holes."
Pierz girls' coach Steve Holbrook said any of his players, if not the whole team, could advance.
"I think the cutoff is going to be around 99 in the subsection," Holbrook said. "Team-wise, if everybody shoots what they're capable of shooting, we have as good a chance as anybody else. "
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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