FOREST LAKE — A sizzling opening round helped the Stillwater girls’ golf team take much of the drama out of Day 2 of the Section 4AAA tournament on Friday, May 31 at Tanners Brook Golf Club.

The Ponies, who are ranked 10th in the Minnesota Golf Association state rankings, easily outdistanced runner-up Mahtomedi 667-748 — an 81-shot margin — to qualify for its second straight state tourney and 9th in the last 11 years. White Bear Lake followed in third place with a two-day total of 774.

Stillwater built a whopping 57-shot lead after matching its season best 18-hole score of the season with a 322. It created a mostly stress-free final round.

“Our goal all year is the state tournament so it’s nice when we don’t have to worry about that,” Ponies coach Peter Deeg said. “It’s kind of nice knowing you’re going to get in and it frees up the golf swing.”

The Ponies shot 23 shots higher in the second round, but still expanded their winning margin in the team standings.

“The girls didn’t play as well on Friday,” Deeg said. “We went out and our goal was to shoot 320. That was our goal on Friday, too. None of them really played that well, but we qualified for state and everybody was really happy. It wasn’t awful, just not as good.”

The Ponies had more than enough firepower to overcome a scoring miscue by the team’s top player Catherine Monty, who was disqualified in the second round for signing an incorrect scoreboard. The junior, who shot a 76 in the first round and appeared to lock up section medalist honors for the second year in a row before realizing her error and alerting the tournament director.

“None of the other girls questioned her, it was just a mistake and everybody did the right thing (by stepping forward), Deeg said. “We congratulated Catherine for doing the right thing. It sucks to be DQ’d, but that’s the rule.

“High school golf is the only sport that is self-policing where in the end you disqualify yourself. It’s honorable, where that’s what you do.”

Three Ponies earned All-Section honors, including Caitlyn Garrity (82-81—163), Paige O’Neal (78-89—167) and Sam Kane (91-81—172). Caroline Monty (88-89—177) was steady both days to finish seventh in the individual standings and Savannah Vincent (87-98—185) placed 12th.

“I thought Paige played well on the first day,” Deeg said. “Even without Catherine, we had three All-Section people. The team just played really well.

“Savannah play well, but had a tough day on Friday. I haven’t look at the other section scores, but it would be difficult for any to have just two scores in the 90s in 12 rounds.”

Mahtomedi’s Maddie Simon (80-75—155) claimed medalist honors by seven shots over runner-up Grace Bullard (83-79—162) of Cretin-Derham Hall. The other individual state qualifiers included Katrina Yang (91-81—172) of Tartan, Iyanna Hutchinson (87-92—179) of St. Paul Central and Emily King (92-90—182) of Cretin-Derham Hall.

Stillwater bettered its section-winning score of 709 a year ago, when the Ponies placed seventh at state.

“We kind of did what I’ve harped on all year, and that’s try to stay away from the big number,” Deeg said. “For the most part at Tanners that’s what we did and that’s why we scored as well as we did.”

The state meet will take place at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids on June 11-12. Play is scheduled to begin at noon.

Cathrine Monty, Garrity, O’Neal and Vincent were each in the lineup for the Ponies when they competed at state a year ago.

“We’re looking forward to Bunker next week and seeing what we can do,” Deeg said. “I think we’re just going in with the expectation to just have fun and play our best and let the results take care of itself.”

Team standings

1. Stillwater 322-345—667; 2. Mahtomedi 379-369—748; 3. White Bear Lake 385-389—774.

Stillwater results (par 71)

Caitlyn Garrity 82-81—163, Paige O’Neal 78-89—167, Sam Kane 91-81—172, Caroline Monty 88-89—177, Savannah Vincent 87-98—185 and Catherine Monty 76-DQ—DQ. Medalist — Maddie Simon (Mah) 80-75—155.

Contact Stuart Groskreutz at stuart.groskreutz@ecm-inc.com

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