Bowyer, Myhre, Esping qualify for state golf meet
Lauren Bowyer rallied from a five-stroke deficit after the first day and captured her second straight Section 3A girls' golf title Friday at the GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness Club in Worthington.
Meanwhile, Cole Myhre finished in fourth place with a 168 and Jackson Esping sixth with a 174 to each qualify for the upcoming boys' state meet. Bowyer, Myhre and Esping are all recent graduated seniors.
This marks Myhre's second state golf tournament after also qualifying as a freshman.
Esping, who also competed in the state football and state wrestling tournaments this season, made it a state trifecta by earning his first state golf meet.
The Minneota boys shot 736 and finished second behind team champion Lakeview, which shot a 668. Carson Boe of Lakeview was the individual boys' medalist with a 147.
The top five individuals not on the winning team also advance to the state meet.
The state meet will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, June 14-15 at Pebble Creek in Becker.
Wednesday's first day of the section tournament was played on a wet course with long roughs and slow greens, and unplayable bunkers, after a thunderstorm passed through the night before. The weather turned near-perfect on Friday and groundskeepers were able to get the course in great shape.
Bowyer, who finished 18th at state last year, shot a two-day 186 to finish 10 strokes ahead of Cierra Tutt of Murray County Central. She trailed Tutt and Brielle Vis of SWMCH-EHS by five strokes after the first day on Wednesday.
Murray County Central won the girls' team title with an 867. Adrian/Ellsworth was second with an 883.
Bowyer got things turned around after a first-day 96 and finished strong with a 90. She carded two birdies on the second day, including a near-eagle.
"I knew I just need to play smart golf on the second day," the personable champion said. “I just need to play Lauren golf."
Lauren said her father and assistant coach, John Bowyer, helped calm her down when things weren't going well.
"He loves it and has so much fun. He was a big help to me," she said. "He would tell me just to calm down and play like I'm capable of."
The hole that showcased her abilities was No. 14, a 214-yard, par-4. One of the state's longest drivers, Bowyer pulled the 5-wood out of her bag and nailed the shot to within 20 feet of the pin. Her eagle putt stopped just inches short of the cup. She tapped in for birdie.
Her comfortable 10-stroke win is even more surprising when you consider she triple-bogeyed each of the last two holes.
"I don't know why, but I looked up a couple of times before I shot and 'chunked' it," she said. "That was the most disappointing of the two days.”
Bowyer's goal now is to finish in the top eight at state.
"If I play my game I think I can do that," she said. "I have to remind myself to keep my head down and I'll be alright."
Myhre shot an 88 the first day and was in danger of not qualifying for state. He also began his second day with a double bogey.
"I was a little worried," Myhre admitted. "But then I got par on the next hole and I settled down."
He carded his lone birdie on the second day en route to a solid 80 and a fourth-place finish. He just missed an eagle on that hole as the ball stopped inches from the cup. He tapped in for birdie.
"I just stayed more focused on the second day and played like I was capable of," he explained. "My chipping was better than the first day.”
Myhre said he didn't drain any long memorable putts for birdie or to save par on his much-improved second round.
"I just put myself in good position on most of the holes," he said.
When Myhre qualified for state as a freshman, he was a nervous 15-year-old and finished in 78th place.
"I'm sure I won't be as nervous this time," he laughed. "I'm just going to try to stay focused and play as well as I can. I'd like to finish in the top 25 this time."
This is the second state tournament he will be competing in his senior after the football team reached the Class A state finals. He was the team's starting center.
"I haven't played this well all year," said Esping. "I guess I saved my best for the right time."
To prove his point, Esping had not finished higher than six in any Camden Conference meet this season, yet he finished sixth in the section meet with many more competitors.
Esping was hoping he would get a chance to play in the state golf tournament so he could finish his high school career by playing in three state tournaments as a senior.
Esping has been a consistent golfer all season, averaging right at 45 per nine holes over 10 events. He bested that average with a 41 on the front nine on Wednesday before finishing the back nine with a 48. On Friday, he shot a 42-43 for an 85.
"I tried to play the smartest golf I could," he said. "I'm a long driver, but I wasn't hitting them straight on the back nine that first day. So I started teeing off with my 5-iron instead of a wood and because I can hit it a long way, it worked out well. I would lay up and not do anything dumb."
Esping never had a birdie on any hole on either day, but he played consistent all day.
"(Minneota head coach) Walker (Hennen) told me that I would probably need to just play bogey golf to qualify for state. That's pretty much what I did."
Par at the Worthington course is 71 and playing bogey golf over 18 holes would be 89, which is what Esping hit the first day. But he was four strokes better than that the second day.
BOYS TEAM SCORES - (1) Lakeview 668 (2) Minneota 736 (3) Heron Lake-Okabena-Fulda/Westbrook-Walnut Grove 742 (4) Adrian-Ellsworth 746
BOYS INDIVIDUAL TOP 20 - (1) Carson Boe*, Lakeview, 75-72-147 (2) Brock Henning*, Adrian-Ellsworth, 80-84-164 (3) Ethan Schwankl*, Lakeview, 86-81-167 (4) tie, Cole Myhre*, Minneota, 88-80-168; and Sawyer Drant*, HLOL/WWG, 80-88-168 (6) Jackson Esping*, Minneota, 89-85-174 (7) tie, Chase Christensen*, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, 88-89-177; and Cole Arends*, Lakeview, 85-92-177 (9) tie, Jack Abrahamson, Canby, 86-94-180; and Jayden Goblish, Wabasso, 85-95-190 (11) Logan Nogosek, Adrian-Ellsworth, 89-96-185 (12) Garret Brandt, RTR, 91-95-185 (13) tie, Carter Drant, HLOF/WWG, 96-92-188; Parker Geistfeld, Lakeview*, 100-88-188 (15) tie, Alex Munson, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, 91-98-189; Lane Arends, Lakeview*, 89-100-189; Neil Kuehl, HLOL/WWG, 94-95-189; and Landyn Loosbrock, Adrian-Ellsworth, 95-94-189 (19) Jared Fischer, SWMCH-EHS, 94-96-190 (20) Austin Allen, Hills-Beaver Creek, 99-95-194
* State qualifier.
MINNEOTA BOYS SCORES - Cole Myhre 168, Jackson Esping 174, Alex DePestel 196, Max Rost 203, Anthony Rybinski 211, Lucas Rybinski 224
GIRLS TEAM SCORES - (1) Murray County Central 867 (2) Adrian-Ellsworth 883 (3) Heron Lake-Okabena-Fulda/Westbrook-Walnut Grove, 893
GIRLS INDIVIDUAL TOP 20 - (1) Lauren Bowyer*, Minneota, 96-90-186 (2) Cierra Tutt*, Murray County Central, 91-105-196 (3) Brielle Vis*, SWMCH-EHS, 91-106-197; and Tess VanMaanen*, Hills-Beaver Creek, 97-100-197 (5) Ellyson Bang*, HLOF/WWG, 103-96-199 (6) Kara Rangaard*, Canby, 99-103-202 (7) Josi Altman, Adrian-Ellsworth, 112-100-212 (8) Taya Elias, Adrian-Ellsworth, 106-107-213 (9) Madelyn Koep, HLOF/WWG, 109-107-216 (10) Ava Johnson*, Murray County Central, 112-105-217 (11) Ellie Meyer*, Murray County Central, 115-104-219 (12) Madeline Wagner, Adrian-Ellsworth, 107-113-220 (13) Shae O'Leary, RTR, 110-114-224 (14) Rachel Huso*, Murray County Central, 113-122-235 (15) Marenna Bang, HLOF/WWG, 127-111-238 (16) Teigyn O'Leary, RTR, 116-125-241 (17) Ava Brown, Adrian-Ellsworth, 113-128-242 (18) Caitlyn Veld, Adrian-Ellsworth, 122-124-246 (19) Kelli Renacke, HLOF/WWG, 120-129-249 (20) Olivia Lenhoff, Adrian-Ellsworth, 125-130-255
* State qualifier.