by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River coach Dave Bleyhl was fretting a bit late in the first round of Section 7AAA girls golf on Monday, where his No. 5 ranked Elks are hoping for the school’s first state trip since 2006.
“We’re not playing very well today. I’m getting nervous,” said Bleyhl. His mood didn’t improve when he watched No. 1 golfer Sadie Martin hit a bad drive on No. 16.
Not to worry, though. The Elks would finish the 18 holes at Princeton Golf Club in first place with 346, Grand Rapids, the team’s main rival for a state berth, has 353.
Duluth East was the other team to make the cut with 380. The other 10 teams were done other than individual advancers.
Martin led the field with 37-39-76. One stroke behind her was Duluth East’s Tabitha Kunst.
“Scores were a little high — it was pretty windy, and pretty wet,” noted Bleyhl.
Pools of water dotted the course from an early morning cloudburst, and the wind made it tough to drive.
The gusts also cooled players off in the 82-degree heat, which was stifling when they were out of the wind. In a season that’s been mainly cold and rainy, the players are not yet accustomed to such heat.
The other counting scores for the Elks were provided by seniors Andrea Dwyer with 87, Ashlee Lindeen with 90, and McKayla Granning with 93.
Nicole Thorndal shot 92 but signed a scorecard that was added up wrong and had to take the 94 that was on it. Alex McDonald shot 100.
ERHS has had 17 state tournament teams, all under Bleyhl, most of any school in the state in girls golf, but none since 2005, when they won the state championship.
That year, the Elks edged Grand Rapids by one stroke at sectional, and this year’s sectional could be another nail-biter between the same schools. The Elks have faced unranked Grand Rapids in three previous tournaments, beating them two of three, all close.