Landry leads St. Croix Central golf team to sectionals
An outstanding performance by senior Emma Landry led the St. Croix Central girls golf team in earning a berth at this Tuesday’s WIAA Division 2 sectional tournament.
Somerset wasn’t able to qualify as a team, but the the Spartans did advance seniors Ally Wittstock and Cally Meixner to the sectional level.
Landry earned medalist honors by shooting an 81 in last Wednesday’s WIAA Division 2 regional meet at the Frederic Golf Club. With Landry leading the way, the Panthers shot 413, putting them in second place in the final regional results. The top four teams from each regional meet qualify for sectionals.
The Somerset girls missed qualifying by nine strokes, finishing at 434. Wittstock finished at 100 and Meixner at 104 to advance as individual qualifiers for the sectional tournament. Somerset sophomore Emma Westmoreland shot a 107, missing qualifying for the sectional by three strokes.
For St. Croix Central, getting the team through to the sectional level wasn’t a lock, even halfway through the regional meet. Scores were posted during a break after the first nine holes and the Panthers found themselves locked in a battle among five teams that were competing for the final three berths. Central coach Chance Langeness had a chat with all five Panthers at that point.
“I told the girls every shot is important, that you can’t rush anything,” he said.
The Panthers responded by playing much better on the back nine, finishing in second place, one stroke ahead of Ellsworth.
Landry’s play on the back nine was incredible. She shot a 38, which ties Arinn DiSalvo for the best nine-hole score in Panther history. Landry was the tournament medalist, finishing at 81, which also ties DiSalvo’s 18-hole school record. Landry’s 81 was the fourth best score among all the Division 2 regionals in the state.
“She was so locked in,” Langeness said of Landry’s back nine. “Every shot was right at the flag.”
Junior Carolyn Morris also made a drastic improvement on the back nine, chopping her score down to 50 after shooting 60 on the front nine.
“It was cool to see Carolyn step up like that. When she slows herself down she can really hit some good shots,” Langeness said.
Morris and Hailey Schultz both finished at 110 for the Panthers. Audra Scott finished at 112 and Sarah Phillips at 123.
Langeness said it will be tough for the Panthers to advance as a team to state because of strong teams from Osceola, Hayward and Spooner in the sectional meet, with just two teams qualifying for state. The Panthers are hoping to be the first Central girls team to reach the state golf tournament since 2003, when Coach Bob Nelson led the Panthers to state for the first time in school history.
“My goal is, I’m going to push that we finish fourth or better,” Langeness said.
The Somerset girls were equally thrilled with their performance at Frederic. Getting Wittstock and Meixner through the regional accomplishes one of the team’s main goals for the season. Somerset coach Kristin Flater said both girls are hoping to play better at the sectional than they did at the regional meet.
“We know where they both struggled, the par threes and putting. There was a lot of anxiety going into regionals. That decreases now that they’ve reached their goals,” Flater said.
Flater said this tournament also showed that the Spartans who are returning next season have also made big improvements. She praised Westmoreland’s ability to shrug off a bad shot and her improved consistency striking the ball.
The biggest surprise for the Spartans came from sophomore Grace Bauer. Bauer began playing golf at the start of this season. On the back nine Wednesday, she was able to shoot a 54.
“For her playing eight weeks, a 54 on the back nine is spectacular,” Flater said.