The Elk River girls golf team wrapped up its second straight unbeaten, conference championship season Friday, winning the full NWSC tournament at Bunker Hills, led by medalist Sadie Martin.
Coach Dave Bleyhl and his players gathered in a golf cart for parents taking photos after capturing the conference championship at Bunker Hills. (Photo by Bruce Strand)
by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
It's two in a row, and probably more to go, for Elk River girls golf in Northwest Suburban Conference play.
Led by medalist Sadie Martin, the Elks capped their second straight unbeaten season in NWSC meets Friday, winning the full conference tournament at Bunker Hills.
Martin, a sophomore, shot 43-37- 80 to lead the field by a five-stroke margin, and junior Mikaila Granning placed fourth with 45-44-89. Those two and sophomore Ashlee Lindeen made all-conference.
Elk River's Sadie Martin (left) won the 10-team conference finale with 80 and Mikaila Granning (right) placed fourth with 89. In season points, Granning ranked third and Martin fourth in the conference. (Photos by Bruce Strand)
The Elks, with all sophomores and juniors in the lineup, totaled 360 strokes. Park Center was second at 392.
The Elks were 9-0 in conference small meets and held first place going into the 10-team conference meet that counts for half the final standings. They easily completed the job Thursday.
Martin had a shaky start with some early bogeys on the way to a 43, but she found her rhythm in the second nine, highlighted by birdies on No. 4 and 11, each with a long putt, to trim her score to 37.
"I just started making good shots," said Martin about the second nine. "I was a lot more focused because I knew the course better, and I played with a lot more confidence."
Ashlee Lindeen (in red) watched an approach shot along with playing partners including Karie Francen (white top) of Blaine and Breanna Hamilton (green) of Park Center.
After Martin and Granning, other counting scores for the Elks were Lindeen's 46-46-92 and 99's by juniors Andrew Dwyer (49-50) and Megan Nelson (50-49). Alex McDonald, a sophomore, shot 50-54-104.
Coach Dave Bleyhl said he expected another championship, even with three of last year's lineup graduating, and they came through again. In fact, the Elk junior varsity won their conference tournament, too.
The conference meet is not the biggest goal, though. That would be Section 7AAA, coming up Monday at Grand National in Blaine. Bleyhl was already looking ahead.
"We are better than this," said Bleyhl about the 360 score. "We had difficulty putting and we've got to work on the long putts. And this course has more sand than we have. We have to work on that. There won't be as much sand (at Hinckley) but we've got to get better at it."
The season individual leaders in season points were freshman Hannah Andrews of Blaine in first place and eighth-grader Sierra Langlie of Andover in second. The Elks had three of the top six as Granning took third, Martin fourth and Lindeen sixth. The top 17 make all-conference, with Dwyer placing 18th and getting honorable mention.
Eight conference champs
The girls golf triumph gives Elk River a final total of seven NWSC championships in the school year, including three in the last two days. They join the girls cross country, tennis, hockey, gymnastics and track teams, and the boys tennis and golf teams, as conference champions. Granning was also a starter for the champ tenns team.
The Elks hope to be back at Bunker Hills on June 16-17 when the Coon Rapids course hosts the state tournament.
"We're ready," smiled Martin.
The Elk River boys and girls teams, both coming off conference championships, will both enter Section 7AAA on Monday at Grand National in Hinckley, with the boys starting 9 a.m. and the girls at noon. The top three teams Monday will come back Thursday.
The sectional girls field is headed by Grand Rapids, Forest Lake and Elk River. Bleyhl said that's probably how they'd be rated, in that order. The Elks have made it to the final day for the last two years and hope to be the last one standing this time.
1. Elk River 360
2. Park Center 392
3. Centennial 397
4. Osseo 399
5. Blaine 411
6. Coon Rapids 414
7. Champlin Park 417
8. Maple Grove 435
9. Andover 438
10. Anoka 451
Top 5 individuals
1. Sadie Martin, Elk River, 43-37-80
2. Sierra Langlie, Andover, 38-47-85
3. Hannah Andrews, Blaine, 42-46-88
4. Mikaila Granning, Elk River, 45-44-89
Jill Larson, Maple Grove, 46-43-89
Final conference standings
(points for small meets and conference meet combined)
1. Elk River
2. Park Center
6. Champlin Park
7. Coon Rapids
8. Maple Grove