Legacy Christian Academy has a chance to defend its Class A state girls’ golf team title after winning the Section 4A meet Thursday at Victory Links Golf Course.
The reigning Class A champions won the section title, 24 strokes ahead of Southwest Christian School, 74 strokes ahead of Mounds Park Academy and 153 strokes ahead of Braham.
Medalist honors went to Southwest’s Christine Piwnica, who carded two rounds in the 70s (78-75–153) for 19-stroke winning margin.
Lions coach Dan Nelson said nerves to start the second round showed up in big numbers on the opening holes.
“I don’t usually mind the nerves because it shows the girls really want it,” he said, with five of eight scoring rounds in the 80s to help the team score. “Fortunately they were able to settle into their stride and finish the day well. Our depth definitely helped us pull out the victory.”
Lions freshman Kayla Ruf carded the third-best individual score (89-84–173) followed by eighth grader Sophie Gray (84-93–177), junior Anna Cleveland (87-93–180) and junior Lindsey McAlpin (96-89–185) to complete the team scoring.
Jillian Johnson and Jadyn Nelson had the fifth and sixth best scores for the Lions.
Nelson added that given the pressure that comes with qualifying for state, “It’s nice to know that you have multiple players that can step up.”
Gray and Cleveland shot team-lows on the opening round before Ruf and McAlpin led the way in the second round.
“I’m looking forward to the day when they all play their best on the same day; and it looks like they will have to if they are going to repeat as state champions,” Nelson said.
With Legacy qualifying for state as a team, the next five best individuals qualified for state including Heritage’s Kiera Smith (172), Braham’s Caitlin Richmond (174), Heritage’s Allison Deckert (177) and Mounds Park’s Isabel McKeown (182).
Medalist Piwnica and Smith tied for third place at state last year while Ruf was 18th overall and the second best score by an eighth grader, behind only Smith.
Pace of play was an issue both days with the girls rounds lasting around six hours.
Nelson said the pace didn’t affect his team as it could have.
“I encouraged them to make the experience positive not only for themselves but for their opponents,” he said.
The Legacy coach commended Victory Links for, “their willingness to sacrifice for the development of these young players.”
The National Sports Center course is one of 21 First Tee programs in the state which helps not only introduce kids to the game but as Nelson put it: “providing education programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”
Spring Lake Park sat in second place, two strokes behind Mounds View (347-349) after the first round of the section meet played at The Links at Northfork May 27.
While all four team scores were higher over the second round, Mounds View minimized the additional strokes to hold off the North Suburban Conference champions from Spring Lake Park by seven strokes to win the section team title, May 29, with Blaine in third place, 19 strokes off the winning pace.
Panthers sophomore Ally Rogers was the medalist for the tournament with rounds of 81 and 76 for a 157 total.
Rogers will look to improve on a tie for 61st place at state last year.
Blaine junior Caroline Andrews was runner-up with matching rounds of 81. She was one stroke ahead of Mounds View’s Kristen Cash.
Rogers, Allie Guzy, Erica Olson and Ali Schultz earned all-conference honors as well.
Jason Olson is at