by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River’s four-year run atop the Northwest Suburban Conference in girls golf came to end Friday and the Elks were gracious in saluting the new champion.
“Blaine has been playing strong all year, so we knew it was going to be tough,” said Elk senior captain Mary Elmquist.
The Bengals won the full conference tournament at Bunker Hills with 335 with the Elks second at 359 and Andover third at 369.
Counting smaller meets and the conference tourney, Blaine finished first, the Elks second and Andover third in the season standings.
Sierra Langlie, Andover junior, was meet medalist with 81, followed by Blaine seniors Hannah Andrew and Leah Swanson with 82’s and sophomore Caroline Anderson with 83.
“Blaine has two real good seniors and Caroline is good, too,” said Elk freshman Morgan Bleyhl, a second-year varsity player.
For the Elks, sophomore Samantha Lindeen shot 43-44-87, Bleyhl 41-48-89, sophomore Morgan Dietrichs 44-47-91, and Elmquist 48-44-92.
“Blaine had a lot of people back this year, and we graduated three seniors,” said Elk coach Dave Bleyhl. “We knew going in they would probably be the best team. But they will graduate their one and two players, so next year I think it will be us and Andover again and Blaine will still be good, too.”
Elmquist, Bleyhl and Lindeen — who made this year’s all-conference team — were all starters on the 2012 team that won conference and section and placed sixth in the state. They have usually notched the low three scores this year while the team looked for a solid fourth score among first-year players.
“We have 10 eighth-graders, so I think we are going to be strong again,” said Elmquist, who’ll play for Bemidji State next year. She said she sees good potential: “A lot of them are already shooting high 40’s which is real good for eighth-graders.”
Elmquist noted that the season has been a bit “stressful, with all the snow” for all teams. She hasn’t shot quite as well yet as she did the end of last year. But things are getting back to normal now.
“My season has been OK. I’ve played well here and there. I am looking forward to Monday and Thursday,” said Elmquist, hearkening to the Section 7AAA tournament at Hinckley.
While most of April’s schedule was canceled by the late winter, Bleyhl did some re-arranging so the girls still had five 18-hole invitationals along with the tightly-bunched conference schedule.
“We still played quite a few tournaments and we’ve been practicing hard. I’m happy with how they’ve done,” said the coach. “Second place is good. This conference is tough. We will have a pretty tough section, too. We are ready for it.”
Grand-kid on the team
Coach for three decades, Bleyhl has family on the team for the first time since his daughter Laura, the 1989 state champion, as Morgan is his grand-daughter.
“I love playing for him,” said Morgan. “It’s so nice to be on the course and getting advice from him and being comfortable with him. I’ve been playing with him my whole life.”
1. Blaine 335
2. Elk River 359
3. Andover 369
4. Centennial 382
5. Armstrong 385
6. Maple Grove 386
7. Champlin Park 44
8. Osseo 423
9. Coon Rapids 424
10. Anoka 439
11. Park Center 452
Note: The Elks had not played Armstrong and Osseo in the regular season due to weather postponements, so this tournament counted as dual meets against them. The Elks beat Armstrong 180-189 and Osseo 180-210.