NEW PRAGUE - The Fairmont girls golfers shifted into second gear at the halfway juncture of Monday's Section 2AA Meet to cruise to a second consecutive Class AA state team bid.
The Cardinals utilized career-best 18-hole rounds from Lizzie Larson, Emily Kim and Cassidy Krusemark to transform a seven-stroke edge at the turn into an 18-stroke victory over Jordan's runner-up 380 at the New Prague Golf Course.
Fairmont tees off the Class AA state team meet at 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, June 11, and Wednesday, June 12, at the Ridges @ Sand Creek golf course in Jordan.
HEADED TO STATE — Fairmont golfer Cassidy Krusemark taps a putt toward the 18th cup at the New Prague Golf Course during the Section 2AA Meet on Monday in New Prague. Krusemark went on to help guide the Cardinals to the section team championship. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
The Cardinal girls lineup, however, will not be alone as Fairmont senior standout Carter Welchlin produced the fifth-best round in the boys' portion of the sectional to capture an individual state bid. Welchlin and the Class AA state field will tee off at 7:30 a.m. both days at the same venue in Jordan.
For mentor Ron Kallheim, next week's two-day state meet will close out the final page of his extraordinary coaching career at the Fairmont girls golf helm.
"To tell you the truth, yes, I was a little nervous at the turn," said Kallheim, who's retiring at the end of this season. "You just never know when someone's going to shoot the round of their career at a section meet.
"Jordan's No. 6 (Nicole Scrader) and No. 4 (Annika Sidhu) each shot in the 90s, but we had three players shoot their career-bests today."
Indeed. Larson matched her career-low by carding a 41-40-81 to tie Belle Plaine's Hannah Johnson for runner-up sectional medalist honors.
Larson connected for a team-leading nine pars and used 34 putts to pace the Cardinals' low-scoring championship ways.
Megan Rosol sank Fairmont's lone birdie on the meet at the No. 1 hole before sinking four par putts to pace a 42-45-87 to pack scoring punch to the sectional champion's performance. Rosol also used 34 putts during her stellar 18-hole round.
Emily Kim fired her career-best mark of 46-50-96 to net the Cardinals' third counting score, while sister Elizabeth Kim chipped in a 49-49-98 to complete the winning tallies.
Emily Kim drained six par putts and used a team-low 32 putts to fuel her best round ever, while Elizabeth Kim - who took 36 putts - connected for two pars to break the century mark.
Krusemark made one par putt to generate a career-best round of 55-53-108 for Fairmont, while Alyssa Westcott rounded out the winning effort with a 62-64-126.
"We've really shot well on the back nine during the last couple of meets to widen our final margin of victory. I don't like it that much when it's close at the turn," said a smiling Kallheim.
Senior Autumn Drake capped her outstanding prep golf career by firing a 47-48-95 to guide the Blue Earth Area Buc girls golf team to a tie with Belle Plaine for third place in the sectional team competition at 410.
Drake just missed making the state-qualifying cut by a mere three strokes.
Natali Fellows registered an 18-hole round of 52-51-103 to place second on the Bucs' roster, while teammate Anna Aukes chipped in a 52-53-105. Aeli Olson rounded out Blue Earth Area's counting marks by shooting a 52-55-107.
Signe Olson tallied a 61-69-130 for the Bucs, while teammate Ashley Petersen was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to illness.
Meanwhile, from an individual boys' perspective, Welchlin nearly duplicated his first nine-hole score of 38 during his second nine - Nos. 10-18 - by penciling in a 40 to produce the fifth-best overall mark of 78.
"After seeing the scores at the turn, I figured if he (Welchlin) could break 80, he'd qualify for state (individually)," said Fairmont head boys golf coach Brad Haugen.
Unfortunately for Cardinal senior standout Josh Baldus, his sectional total of 40-41-81 proved one stroke shy of earning a playoff for an individual state bid.
"My putting just wasn't there today," said Baldus, a perennial state qualifier throughout his stellar prep golf career.
Blue Earth Area's Zach Curtis fired a 43-39-82, Buc teammate Logan Jacobs turned in a 43-45-88, BEA's Taylor Olson carded a 45-44-89, Buc teammate Trevor Zierke penciled in a 48-44-92, while Fairmont's Joe Nordquist rounded out the area individual sectional qualifiers with a 49-44-93.
New Ulm's Ethan Kraus and Jonah Cooper each earned sectional medalist honors by shooting a pair of 75s to steer the Eagles to a team championship total of 309 - 17 shots better than runner Mankato East.
SECTION 2AA MEET
At New Prague Golf Course
Team Standings (Champion advances to state): 1. Fairmont 362 (Lizzie Larson 41-40-81; Megan Rosol 42-45-87; Emily Kim 46-50-96; Elizabeth Kim 49-49-98; Cassidy Krusemark 55-53-108; Alyssa Westcott 62-64-126); 2. Jordan 380 (Trianna Thong 39-38-77; Nicole Schrader 47-51-98; Annika Sidhu 50-49-99; Sabrina Thong 51-55-106; Lexy Stemig 55-53-108; Rachel Menke 58-63-121); 3. (tie) Blue Earth Area 410 (Autumn Drake 47-48-95; Natali Fellows 52-51-103; Anna Aukes 52-53-105; Aeli Olson 52-55-107; Signe Olson 61-69-130; Ashley Petersen WD); and Belle Plaine 410 (Hannah Johnson 39-42-81; Ireland Lambrecht 43-46-89; Alison Stolee 59-58-117; Maddie Hartman 61-62-123; Lexi Stauffacher 61-63-124; Sam Gregory 70-74-144).
Individual Results (Top 5 sectional medalists; top 5 non-team members advance to state): 1. Trianna Thong (Jordan) 39-38-77; 2. (tie) Lizzie Larson (F) 41-40-81 and Hannah Johnson (BP) 39-42-81; 4. Melissa Bartz (Waseca) 41-46-87; 5. Ireland Lambrecht (BP) 43-46-89; 6. Kelsey Skelly (Le Sueur-Henderson) 44-48-92.
Team Standings (Champion advances to state): 1. New Ulm 309 (Ethan Kraus 38-37-75; Jonah Cooper 37-38-75; Matt Saffert 38-39-77; Josh Cooper 40-42-82; Tanner Zupfer 45-40-85; Colin Huffman 41-44-85); 2. Mankato East 326 (Carter Haley 36-44-80; Alex Zellmer 41-39-80; Christian Sadaka 40-41-81; Josh Sloniker 43-42-85; Nick Rockvam 44-41-85; Nick Yess 39-48-87); 3. (tie) Jordan 348 (Jake Pieper 41-42-83; Mitchell Peterson 43-42-85; Daniel Gutzmer 43-45-88; Michael Rutz 44-48-92; Alex Vollbrecht 47-49-96; Jordan Remme 50-53-103) and St. Peter 348 (Chris Amsden 39-40-79; Cole Miller 44-39-83; Killian Bixby 46-46-92; Peter Kruize 48-46-94; Erik Thorkelson 50-46-96; Brad Rice 45-56-101).
Individual Results (Top 5 sectional medalists; top 5 non-team members advance to state): 1. (tie) Ethan Kraus (NU) 38-37-75 and Jonah Cooper (NU) 37-38-75; 3. (tie) Matt Saffert (NU) 38-39-77 and Josh Kummerfeldt (Waseca) 36-41-77; 5. Carter Welchlin (Fairmont) 38-40-78; 6. Chris Amsden (SP) 39-40-79; 7. (tie) Carter Haley (East) 36-44-80 and Alex Zellmer (East) 41-39-80.
Other area individuals: Josh Baldus (FHS) 40-41-81; Zach Curtis (Blue Earth Area) 43-39-82; Logan Jacobs (BEA) 43-45-88; Taylor Olson (BEA) 45-44-89; Trevor Zierke (BEA 48-44-92; Joe Nordquist (Fairmont) 49-44-93.