COON RAPIDS — White Bear Lake played well enough on Tuesday to spare any regrets from the Ponies, who placed third in the Section 4AAA Tournament at Bunker Hills Golf Course.
The Bears turned in a score of 293 to outlast runner-up Tartan (300) and the Ponies (302) to earn the trip to state tournament since ? Roseville followed in fourth at 306.
“We had a great day,” Stillwater coach John Scanlon said. “We just lost to a team that shot their season best by literally 18 shots. Hats off to the Bears.”
White Bear Lake’s margin of victory is remarkable when you consider Stillwater turned in four scores within five shots of the medalist and still finished nine shots behind the winning team.
The Ponies did not go away empty handed as sophomore Sammy Sicard and junior Evan Anderson each qualified for state as individuals. Sicard carded a 2-over 74 to finish just two shots behind medalist Matt Pitcher of White Bear Lake.
Much like Anderson’s adventure in a five-players-for-one-spot playoff, Sicard endured a sluggish start to his round on Thursday, but rallied with birdies on three of his last four holes — lipping out a potential fourth in a row on No. 18 — to earn a state bid.
“Sammy, wow, what a finish,” Scanlon said. “He was having a rough day, but hung in there and eventually his tremendous ball striking and putting talent led to three straight birdies.”
Anderson’s chances, meanwhile, appeared bleak after hooking his drive into the bunker on the adjacent fourth hole to start the playoff at No. 1 on the west nine. Undeterred by the errant tee shot — which was long and crooked enough to avoid potential tree trouble — Anderson knocked a 60-plus yard sand wedge onto the green and promptly drained a 35-foot birdie putt to secure the final ticket to state.
“It was in the whole way, right off the club face you could tell it was going in,” Scanlon said. “The crowd went wild. I was really proud of the team and all the camaraderie exhibited as they rooted for Sammy and then Evan in the playoff.”
Two other players had lengthy putts to extend the playoff, but neither could match Anderson’s improbably birdie.
Stillwater posted four scores between 74 and 77, but that was not good enough with the Bears averating a 73.25 from their top four players. Seamus McGuinness finished with a 76 and Lars Lillehei, who was Stillwater’s lone state representative a year ago, closed out the scoring with a 77.
Crosby Joy and John LeClair finished at 80 and 83.
The 302 total was Stillwater’s second lowest score of the season and Lillehei was the only senior in the lineup.
“With 17 of 18 starters in the varsity, JV and JV-B conference tourneys returning next year, we are excited about the future,” Scanlon said. “That said, we are really going to miss our seniors captains Lars and Tony.
“Tony was an excellent leader this year and was actually leading the qualifying for the section team when he had a recurring problem with offseason wrist surgery. Being the selfless teammate that he is, he made way for Seamus, who had a career-best day.”
The state meet is scheduled for June 11-12 at Bunker Hills.
l The Ponies won the conference JV and JV-B tournaments last week at Oak Glen Golf Course and Sawmill Golf Course. Seamus McGuinness shot a 79 to pace Stillwater in a victory at Oak Glen, with help from teammates Bradon Caywood (82), Braxton DeMeuse (82), Joe Sorenson (82) and Drew Koehler (90). Michael Siefert led the Ponies at Sawmill with an 80, followed by teammates Parker Anderson (83), Davis DeMeuse (87), Chris Menzies (97), Micah Schiff (97 and Joey Murphy (97).
1. White Bear Lake 293; 2. Tartan 300; 3. Stillwater 302; 4. Roseville 306; 5. Hill-Murray 310; 6. Mahtomedi 312; 7. Cretin-Derham Hall 313; 8. North St. Paul 325; 9. St. Paul Como Park 374; 10. St. Paul Johnson 392; 11. St. Paul Harding 393; 12. St. Paul Central 403.
Stillwater results (par 72)
Sammy Sicard 74, Evan Anderson 75, Seamus McGuinness 76, Lars Lillehei 77, Crosby Joy 80 and John LeClair 83. Medalist — Matt Pitcher (WBL) 72.