The Staples-Motley girls' golf team hasn't lost a tournament all year and the Cardinals don't plan on starting now.
The matchup is set for the Minnesota Class A girls' golf state tournament, which starts Monday and concludes Tuesday at the St. Cloud Country Club.
Can two-time defending champion Staples-Motley defend its crown or will Roseau finally conquer its nemesis? Will Crosby-Ironton improve on its eighth-place finish of a year ago?
"We've had a good season up until now," said S-M head coach Glen Hasselberg. "We're hopeful that we'll keep playing the way we've been playing. We're very cognizant of Roseau being the best team in the state. They shot a 319 at their section final at Bemidji, which is really good.
"Right now I see it's going to require some very low scores to win. (Roseau is) a very good team so in order to beat them it's going to take scores in the 330s each day and if those scores aren't good enough then they're really good."
The field includes six of last year's qualifying teams, Staples-Motley (Section 6); Roseau (Section 8), last year's runner-up; Waconia (Section 4), third; Springfield/Comfrey (Section 2), fourth; Sauk Centre (Section 5), seventh; and Crosby-Ironton (Section 7), eighth.
The Cardinals return four players from last year's team that narrowly defeated Roseau 675 to 677. Dana Hasselberg leads the Cardinals along with her sister Mary. Senior Becky Schornack and junior Melanie Wilson also return for the Cardinals.
Roseau, making its 10th tournament appearance, also has four players returning. Crosby-Ironton, making its third state appearance, has five players returning with state tournament experience. Sarah Uglem is the new player on the Rangers' roster.
"I'm very confident that we will be better than last year," Rangers coach Deb Hoffman said. "We're looking at no worse than fourth but third is what we want. We know that Staples and Roseau will be battling for first place. That's just the way it is, but we are shooting for third.
"Last year was just a surprise to go down there. It was a wonderful surprise but this year we knew if we remained focused we could make it again. We have a little bit of the state tournament under our belts."
Individually, Dana Hasselberg will try to improve on her fourth-place finish. She's ranked third in the state behind last year's runner-up, Lisa Meschke of Blooming Prairie, and Roseau's Sarah Butler, who finished fifth in 1999.
Mary Hasselberg is ranked fifth in the coaches poll. Wilson and Schornack were rated earlier in the year.
"We haven't talked about individual goals -- it's always been team goals," said Glen Hasselberg. "Two years ago when we won our first championship Tiffany Peterson, Rachael Hoffert and Dana were in the top six in the state.
"When the team takes care of itself so does the individual part. We aren't putting any emphasis on the individual part."
Pequot Lakes sophomore Jackie Heslop, who tied for 10th last year, will try to keep improving as she has done for two years at state. C-I junior Amy Gaviglio, who tied Heslop at state last year, will also be back.
Senior Liz Meschke is another Pequot Lakes golfer who will return to the St. Cloud fairways for the second time as a Patriot. She went twice with Little Falls and was a member of the Class AA Flyers state championship team in 1998.
"There have been some really good scores this year," Patriots head coach Judy Heslop said. "Lisa Meschke shot a 71 in her section and she's been ranked No. 1 all year. Jackie and Liz will have to shoot career rounds.
"Most people don't understand how hard hit it is to go to the state golf tournament. Jackie's been there three times and Liz four times."
Pierz's Amber Sitzman, who tore up the Central Minnesota Conference, is the Pioneers' lone representative as she goes to state for the third time.
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