EAST GULL LAKE -- Like the Asian Lady Beetles swarming the lakes area, the Central Lakes College Raiders women's golf team swarmed the leader board.
Four Raider women golfers finished in the top five Tuesday, the final day of the Minnesota Community College Conference and Region 13 tournament at the Legacy Course at Cragun's.
Jenna Larsen won medalist honors, shooting a final-round 80 for a two-day 164. Freshmen Ashley Burr finished second with an 84, 173. Angie Johnson was third with 89, 177. Samantha Welle of Crosby-Ironton finished fifth while Bobbi VanWechel placed eighth.
The women's dominance on the course gave them the MCCC state and Region 13 championships and an automatic bid for the national tournament next spring. The Raiders men's team won the state title and finished second in the region.
"I'm really happy to get five girls down to nationals," Raiders coach Jim Russell said. "The top three or four players are really consistent. I think we can make a mark at nationals."
It was that consistency that helped Larsen garner top individual honors. A little bit of luck didn't hurt either.
"Everything was going well for me," said Larsen. "My chipping was good. I chipped one in from about 40 feet. I was hitting my drives consistently too."
Russell pointed out that Larsen learned a lot from playing with All-American golfer Melanie Wilson last year.
"Jenna really surprised me shooting an 80," said Russell. "It's amazing what a little experience can do for a player. She has beautiful swing and good short game. Jenna could be a good player for some college next year."
But Russell was even more pleased with how well his freshmen played since they only competed in three tournaments all season.
"Ashley Burr took two years off and has had a baby," Russell said. "For her to come out and play so well is awesome. Angie's been consistent all year. I can't wait to get her back in shape and healthy. Samantha Welle had a rough fall and played with a torn ACL. Once all these girls get in shape and healthier, we'll have a fun time at nationals.
Improvement was the goal of the Raiders men's team.
Four of the five men's golfers improved on their first day scores to edge Rochester for the state title. They fell short to Madison Area Tech for the region championship.
"The men were motivated to show they could play after the off first day," said Russell. "We've been dominant in state the last four years. We did lose to a very good Madison team to go to nationals. They were the best team."
Freshman Kyle Peterson finished second individually. He shot a first-round 76 and followed with a 74 for a two-day total of 150, qualifying for nationals.
Peterson's score could have been lower. He was given a two-stroke penalty because one of his playing partners disputed a dropped ball by Peterson.
"The sad part was that Kyle asked everyone in the group where the drop should be," said Russell, "and the whole group agreed on the spot. But then one guy changed his mind after the hole was finished."
Regardless of the penalty, Peterson was on his game. He changed his putting grip for the second round, lowering the amount he needed to finish the day.
"I was hitting my greens," Peterson said. "The first day, I had 39 putts, which didn't help at all. The second day, I played irons because my tee shots weren't overall that good but my iron shots made up for that."
The biggest surprise, came from freshman Jeff Grote. He shaved four strokes from the first day to shoot a final-round 77 for a 158. He qualified for the national tournament.
"Jeff was our No. 5 man and he shot a great final round," said Russell. "That's what junior college is all about, taking advantage of the opportunity. Jeff took all those other matches this year to improve himself and he did that."
Peterson, along with Larsen, Burr and Johnson were named MCCC All-Conference.
MCCC/Region 13 results
Men's teams -- 1-Madison Area Tech 636, 2-Central Lakes College 639, 3-Rochester 340
Medalist -- Josh Bargfrede (R) 72-75 -- 147
CLC results -- 2-Kyle Peterson 76-74 -- 150, 12-Jeff Grote 81-77 -- 158, 20-Bryan Kavanaugh 84-80 -- 164, 32-Ben Williams 84-86 -- 170, 34-Joey Morgan 90-83 -- 173
Women's teams -- 1-Central Lakes College 701, 2-Bethany Lutheran 820
Medalist -- Jenna Larson (CLC) 84-80 -- 164
CLC results -- 2-Ashley Burr 89-84 -- 176, 3-Angie Johnson 88-89 -- 177, 5-Samantha Welle 97-90 -- 187, 8-Bobbi VanWechel 110-92 -- 202.
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