Thole: Runner-up finish at state caps stellar run for Ponies

By GEORGE THOLE – Stillwater Gazette

After finding themselves down 11 strokes to eventual state champion New Prague the first day, the Ponies regrouped to move from fourth to second place at the state golf tournament with solid play on Day 2 at Bunker Hills Golf Club last week.

New Prague won the gold with 661 strokes with the locals next at 669, moving past defending state champion Wayzata (670) and Red Wing (673), each of whom they trailed after the first day. In fact, the Big Red golfers recorded a 325 total on Wednesday that was a 19-shot improvement over the previous day.

Eastview finished fifth with 693, followed by Elk River (701), Alexandria (712) and Blaine (722). It was the second straight year for SAHS to garner the state runner-up trophy.

Sophomore Celia Kuenster of Cretin-Derham Hall took medalist honors with 141, New Prague’s McKenzie Neisen was runner-up with 143 and our Cassie Deeg claiming the bronze medal with a score of 147. Deeg tied Kuenster for top honors at state last year and the two went head-to-head all season, providing great entertainment.

Hailey Boner finished her career in fine style by placing seventh with a score of 158 – she placed 12th last year – Erin Thiets, a freshman and Alex Zeuli tied with 183 to place 60th. Sophomores Anna Kaul (192) and Amanda Wolf (211) were 76th and 87th, respectfully.

Veteran coach Mike O’Rourke is hanging up his cleats after 32 years. The former Richfield Spartan coached the Ponies to state titles in 1986 and 1987 while making 12 state tournament appearances. O’Rourke ends his career in fine style with back-to-back state runner-up trophies. His capable assistant Peter Deeg ’04 was also an outstanding golfer for the Ponies.

Linner earns Peaslee

Memorial Scholarship

Tom Linner, who recently placed seventh at state in the 800 meters (1:55.57) and eighth in the 1,600 (4:19.66) last week is the recipient of the Ern Peaslee Memorial Scholarship.

Linner was captain of the Ponies state champion cross country team and the section champion track and field outfit. In fact, he is a five-time all-conference performer and has also earned all-state recognition in track.

This guy has ambitions that will take him to UW-La Crosse, where he will enter a dual degree program in biology and physical therapy.

Beginning in 2006, this $1,000 annual scholarship has been given to a graduating member of the Stillwater boys’ track and field team who exhibits excellence in academics, citizenship and athletics. Ern Peaslee was a 1946 graduate of Stillwater High School and lifelong Ponies athletic booster.

John Schantzen, Kyle Peterson, Peter Corcoran, Patrick Swanson, Ryan Nichols and Marshall Davis are prior scholarship recipients.

If you would like information about making a tax-deductible contribution to the Ern Peaslee Memorial Scholarship Fund, please contact Ann Bunce at 651-439-4945.

In the huddle

Reid Gilbertson ’08, a former Ponies MVP in Nordic skiing and track and field who also excelled in cross country, qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships while competing for St. Olaf in the 1,500 meters (3:51.07) in Clairemont, Calif. His time was 15th best in the nation, but unfortunately injury will prevent him from competing for the second year – he did run in the national meet as a sophomore…. LoAnn Johnson ’70, who was a valued employee of ISD 834 for 35 years, has retired and will be missed. Johnson spent the last 30 years of her career as SAHS Registrar. I enjoyed my association with her, as she was a big help in the college recruitment of football players during my tenure…. Oops – last week I listed Ross Halverson’s lovely fianc