PRIOR LAKE — Varsity newcomer Sarah Nielson matched Erin Thiets for Stillwater’s top score on Tuesday as the Ponies finished eighth at the Prior Lake Invitational at The Wilds.
Nielson and Thiets each carded an 89 to help the Ponies finish with a team score of 367. Red Wing posted a winning score of 327, which was eight shots better than runner-up Eden Prairie.
Stillwater finished 14 shots behind Suburban East Conference and Section 4AAA rival Cretin-Derham Hall, which placed fourth with a score of 353. Celia Kuenster claimed individual medalist honors while leading the Raiders with a 1-under 71 — clipping defending state champion McKenzie Neisen (72) of Prior Lake by one shot. Kuenster and Neisen have combined to win each of the past three individual state titles.
Nielson started out slowly for the Ponies, but recovered nicely.
“She started out with five or six bogeys in a row, but calmed down a little bit and finished a lot better than she started,” Ponies coach Peter Deeg said.
Thiets, meanwhile, shot five strokes better on the back nine en route to her 89, which placed her and Nielson 20th overall in the 14-team tourney.
Leah Kroening was next for the Ponies with a 94 and Anna Nelson finished one shot back at 95. Sydney O’Neal shot a 96 for the Ponies and Maddie Luoma filled out the card with a 104.
“They’ve been working hard, but I think they now know for sure what they need to work on,” Deeg said. “We threw away a lot of shots where we didn’t play away from trouble. We need to work on our game management and short game, but as a coach I would rather that be the issue than how they’re hitting the ball.
“I’m thrilled with how they want to keep working,” Deeg said. “Bad scores in golf will happen. As long as they keep working hard good scores will come, and they have been.”
n The Stillwater JV team placed third with a score of 211 in a Suburban East Conference meet on Monday at Midland Hills Country Club, trailing only first-place Forest Lake (204) and runner-up East Ridge (209). Ana Reding led the Ponies with a 47 and seventh-grader Claudia Kim followed with a 49.
1. Red Wing 327; 2. Eden Prairie 335; 3. New Prague 341; 4. Cretin-Derham Hall 353; 5. Minnetonka 357; 6, tie, Lakeville North 360 and Prior Lake 360; 8. Stillwater 367; 9. Northfield 376; 10, tie, Chanhassen 388 and Hopkins 388; 12. Robbinsdale Armstrong 402; 13. Duluth East 418; 14. Shakopee 488.
Stillwater results (par 72)
20. Sarah Nielson 45-44—89; 20. Erin Thiets 47-42—89; 33. Leah Kroening 43-51—94; 36. Anna Nelson 50-45—95; 38. Sydney O’Neal 51-45—96; 54. Maddie Luoma 55-49—104. Medalist — Celia Kuenster (C-DH) 35-36—71.