by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River has two first-time state golf qualifiers as sophomores Morgan Bleyhl and Alexa Filipiak, playing their best golf for when it counts most, got through Section 7AA which concluded Monday.
Bleyhl placed fourth with 79 Saturday and 82 Monday for a 161 total at Grand National in Hinckley.
Filipiak shot 84 and 87 to place sixth with 171, while the Elks came in third as a team. Samantha Lindeen shot 86-86-172 and missed by a stroke.
“I did not expect this at all,” said Filipak. “I was watching them put up the scores, and someone had 171 and was going to state. And I thought, ‘Hey, I shot 171, too!’ And Morgan looks at me and says, ‘Lex, you’re going to state!’ And I started crying.”
Andover was team champion with 663, followed by Forest Lake with 678 and Elk River with 680. Those three teams made the cut after Saturday’s 18 holes.
Sierra Langlie of Andover was medalist with 79-79-149.
Bleyhl said she made a couple good birdie putts that highlighted her 79 on Saturday. She did not putt well on Monday but was steady enough otherwise to hold her spot.
“I came in today knowing I just had to break 90 and would probably make state,” said Bleyhl, who beat that goal by eight strokes.
“I am really excited about state, and I get to go with Alexa, too.”
Bleyhl and Filipiak both played their best golf the last two tournaments, at conference, where they helped the Elks beat Andover and place first, and at the sectional.
“I learned to take it a little easier, not be too quick with my swing,” said Bleyhl. “Just stay calmer.”
Filipiak also had trouble with the putter but she launched several good drives and “my iron shots all made it to the green today.”
She was placed in a foursome with Langlie, longtime Andover standout.
“That was a big honor,” said Filipiak. She said it was “a little intimidating” at first but turned into “an eye-opening experience” that helped her play better.
The Elks other counting score was Miranda Ray with 88. Morgan Dietrich shot 91 and Grace O’Konek 108.
“We are excited to have two girls in the state tournament,” said Dave Bleyhl, Elks coach. “Both of them have been really coming on. I feel bad for Samantha, missing by a stroke, after going last year.”
The Elks extended Coach Bleyhl’s streak of having someone at state every season since 1989.
“We are aware of that streak,” said Filipiak.
The state Class AAA meet will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, June 10-11, at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids.