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Girls State Golf Tournament: WHS's Kate Lesnar is ready to compete in her third straight Girls Class AA State Golf Tournament

Jordan Willi/Daily Globe Worthington's Kate Lesnar practices her putting on the practice green at the Worthington Country Club Thursday.

For the third year in a row, Worthington senior Kate Lesnar is spending most of her free time at the local golf courses in preparation for the Girls' Class AA State Tournament.

And she couldn't be more excited for another chance to prove herself against the best the state of Minnesota has to offer.

"I'm really excited to be back there again this year," Lesnar said. "As a sophomore, I didn't think I would make state, but I did and since then it has been my goal to make it back every year.

"I will have to play my best, for sure, to get into the top eight."

With her high school career coming to an end after the state tournament, Lesnar knows she can't leave anything behind when she steps onto the first tee box at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan on Tuesday.

"It is really bittersweet, because this will be my last time putting on the Trojan uniform," Lesnar said. "But it is also very exciting because I'm excited about my future."

Lesnar finished tied for fourteenth at last year's meet, but WHS coach Ron Wood believes that Lesnar has not only improved her game, but her maturity level could give her a real edge.

"I am anticipating her to do as well if not better than she did last year," Wood said. "I think she can crack the top 10. And, if she gets hot, you never know how far up the standings she could shoot."

Lesnar's success and consistency over the years is not entirely due to her natural abilities as a golfer. She has dedicated herself to becoming a better golfer and it has shown in her steady rise up the rankings at the state level.

"I have worked hard the last couple summers to get where I am now," Lesnar said. "And now, all that practice has paid off, especially in my short game where I have become more consistent with my chipping."

One advantage Lesnar might have over other golfers at this year's meet is the fact that she has played on this course two times already and knows the ins and outs of the 18-hole layout.

"It is a really big advantage to have played this course already because there are some tricky holes out there," Lesnar said. "It allows me to know ahead of time exactly what I want to do and think it through before I get up there."

Coach Wood also believes Lesnar's other abilities could set her up to improve upon her finish from a year ago.

"Every year I have watched her at state, she is one of the longest hitters out there," Wood said. "She keeps the ball in play for the most part, which is a big strength at the state tournament. She is also excellent around the green."

With every meet getting tougher as the season goes on, Wood also knows that the stress level for any golfer, including an experienced player like Lesnar, rises as the stakes get higher.

"The stress level goes up every step of the way," Wood said. "Now, at the state tournament, you are playing against the cream of the crop. So, there is less room for mistakes."

Lesnar knows that she will need to have a short memory while playing at the state tournament, even if she has a bad round on the first day.

"You just have to stay focused," Lesnar said. "If you had a bad round the first day, you have to stick with it the next day and have a positive attitude going the whole time even if you have a bad hole, a bad shot or a bad day."

The plan for Lesnar is to take her practice round Sunday and then try her best to stay calm and confident until her first swing of the tournament on Tuesday.

"Every round I play I start over with everything," Lesnar said. "I try to go into each meet with a lot of confidence, so hopefully I can just take each shot one at a time and play well."

Lesnar is scheduled to tee off on the first hole at 1:21 p.m. Tuesday along with St. Croix Lutheran's Ellyn Mortell, Perham's Rebecca Huus and St. Cloud Cathedral's Lucy Gaetz.

Jackson County Central's Abby Brinkman tees off on the first hole at 1:03 p.m. with Eveleth-Gilbert's Leah Carey, Park Rapid's Mariena Dearstyne and Litchfield's Kennedy Sommerfeld.