One thing area fans can count on is seeing the Forest Lake girls golf team claim the Section 7AAA title and the trip to state that goes with it.
The Rangers entered the 2019 championship meet, held at the Hinckley Grand National May 30 and June 1, with four consecutive crowns, and though the rest of the field put up a stronger challenge than usual, the ending was the same as before: the Rangers on top and going to the state tournament as a team yet again.
Thirteen teams entered the preliminary round May 30, with only the three best after 18 holes guaranteed a place in the finals. The Rangers finished the first day with a meet-low score of 328, though the other two teams making the cut were both within striking distance. Elk River ended the day at 333, and St. Michael-Albertville scored 338.
The Rangers’ score was put together by sophomore Sami Boerboom (76) and seniors Brooke Odland (81), Emma Schaefer (81) and Megan Crawford (90). Also competing for the Rangers were junior Maddie Krieger (98) and sophomore Reese Davids (102).
The three qualifying teams and six further individuals moved on to the final round. STMA fell out of contention, but Elk River hung close to the Rangers all day. In the end, the Rangers carded a team total of 330 to the Elks’ 332 on day two, making the final two-day score Rangers 658, Elks 665.
Not exactly the famous 80-stroke victory the Rangers scored two years ago, but a victory all the same. STMA wound up a distant third at 689.
Boerboom finished the 36-hole tournament in third place overall with 156 strokes. Odland was fourth with 160; both of the leading Rangers made four birdies in the finals. Schaefer (12th, 169) and Crawford (14th, 173) maintained their spots in the scoring lineup. Krieger finished 22nd (189) and Davids 23rd (200).
Elk River’s Abbey Filipiak won medalist honors at 150. The Rangers will be joined at state by Filipiak and the next four best placers from the rest of the Section 7AAA field.
Damon so close
The Forest Lake boys also took on the Section 7AAA field in Hinckley on the same dates. In the prelims, the Rangers were led by sophomore Michael Vue (77).
Also contributing to the team score were senior Hunter Damon (78), freshman Ryan Eischen (78) and sophomore Charlie Leonhart (79). Senior Jordan Brelje carded an 80 and sophomore Tyler Brischke finished at 90.
The Rangers’ team score of 312 was the fifth-best of the day, eliminating them from the team competition.
Elk River (295), Chisago Lakes (299), STMA and Andover (tied at 303) moved on to day two to fight for the state berth.
The individual cut line fell right in the middle of the Ranger pack; Vue, Damon and Eischen moved on while Leonhart, Brelje and Brischke were eliminated.
Damon shot the best score of his career on day two, carding an even-par 72 with three birdies and an eagle to finish with a two-day total of 150.
Once all scores were counted, Damon’s total wound up being the ninth best overall. With golfers from title-winning Elk River (594 total strokes) removed, Damon was the sixth-best contender for an individual trip to state, and thus the first man out. The last qualifier was Chisago Lakes’ Ben Forsberg, just one stroke better at 149.
The big show
The Forest Lake girls will compete for team honors against seven other Class AAA section title-winners, qualifying at tournaments around the state last week.
The rest of the field will consist of Lakeville North, Chanhassen, Woodbury, Stillwater, Roseville, Edina and Brainerd. The qualifying teams will be joined by top individuals from each section, including the defending state champion, Blaine eighth-grader Kathryn Van Arragon. The young player with the suspiciously royal name dominated the Section 5AAA meet at The Links at Northfork May 28-30.
The Rangers have a week to practice ahead of the Class AAA state tournament, which will be held June 11-12 at Bunker Hills Regional Park (Coon Rapids).
In their run of state appearances, the Rangers have finished sixth (2015), second (2016), fifth (2017) and eighth (2018).