FOREST LAKE — Advancing to state was a mere formality while winning the Section 4AAA title by 35 shots a year ago, but the Stillwater girls’ golf team enjoyed some drama while capturing the championship on Tuesday at Tanners Brook Golf Course.
The Ponies outscored Mahtomedi 354-356 for the top spot to earn the program’s fifth-consecutive trip to state and 13th overall. Cretin-Derham Hall, led by two-time defending state champion Celia Kuenster, finished third at 372. Kuenster shot a 4-under 68 that was 13 shots better than individual runner-up Kara Meslow (81) of Mahtomedi.
Stillwater has finished second at state each of the past two years, but a return trip was hardly assured after graduating NCAA Division I players Cassie Deeg and Haley Boner and Alex Zeuli, who is a member of the UW-River Falls golf team.
Junior Maddie Luoma finished third overall to spark the Ponies with an 83 and teammate Erin Thiets was just one shot back at 84. Anna Kaul contributed a 92 while Leah Kroenning and Amanda Wolf each finished at 95. Katie Clark followed with a 103 for Stillwater, which does not have a single senior in its lineup.
Thiets, who joined Kaul and Wolf in Stillwater’s state lineup a year ago, overcame a triple-bogey early in the round with five straight pars to shoot a 42 on her first nine holes and matched that score on her back nine. Luoma was solid in her first section tournament and one of the last players on the course for the Ponies, knowing how important her score was going to be for the team’s state aspirations. She salvaged bogey after a poor tee shot on her 17th hole of the day and closed with another bogey on the par-3 11th hole to finish third in the individual standings.
The state meet is scheduled for June 11-12 at Bunker Hills.
1. Stillwater 354; 2. Mahtomedi 356; 3. Cretin-Derham Hall 372; 4. Tartan 373; 5. Hill-Murray 380; 6. Roseville 397; 7. White Bear Lake 411; 8. North St. Paul 416; 9. St. Paul Johnson 495.
Stillwater results (par 72)
Maddie Luoma 83, Erin Thiets 84, Anna Kaul 92, Leah Kroening 95, Amanda Wolf 95 and Katie Clark 103. Medalist — Celia Kuenster (C-DH) 68.