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Prep golf: Van Maanen, Groves earn medalist honors in Red Rock Conference golf

Murray County Central golfer Tyler Groves eyes the hole on the 6th green at the Red Rock Conference golf meet in Worthington. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)1 / 3
Adrian golfer Alexia Kemper putts on the 13th hole of the Red Rock Conference golf meet. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)2 / 3
Adrian's Brady Henning leans as the green takes control of his putt Wednesday during the Red Rock Conference golf meet in Worthington. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)3 / 3

WORTHINGTON -- One medalist was surprised. The other medalist had no reason to be.

Tyler Groves of Murray County Central won his third Red Rock Conference boys golf individual title Wednesday afternoon at the GreatLIFE Worthington golf course. Tess Van Maanen of Hills-Beaver Creek was surprised to win her first.

Van Maanen, only an eighth-grader on an incomplete H-BC girls team that consisted of only two players on Wednesday, toured the Worthington course in 97 strokes -- which placed her one stroke better than Murray County Central’s Abby Hamman. Van Maanen shot a 49 on her first nine and a 48 on her second nine to capture her first individual win this year.

“I was excited,” she said. “I was excited to tell the people back home, and my mom, and stuff. I texted her. She was very happy for me, and she said she was excited to see me when I come home.”

For Groves, who has played in several state tournaments already in his high school career, earning medalist honors has become routine. On Wednesday, he took home the boys title by six strokes over his nearest competition -- teammate Jack Pierson.

On a sunny, warm and calm Wednesday, the tall left-handed senior carded rounds of 39 and 36 strokes for his 75.

“I was pretty solid at putting. I had a lot of one-putts, and that helps. And my chips were pretty close,” he said.

Murray County Central won twice as a team. The boys came in with 347 strokes to overcome second-place Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda, which shot a 364. Westbrook-Walnut Grove had 372 strokes, Adrian 390, Southwest Christian/Edgerton 392, Hills-Beaver Creek 405, Red Rock Central 423 and Mountain Lake Area 457.

The MCC girls totaled 409 strokes to beat Adrian’s 439. HL-O/F had 441, W-WG 481, Southwest Christian/Edgerton 513 and MLA 592. Hills-Beaver Creek and Red Rock Central were incomplete.

It certainly was a great day all around for MCC. The Rebel boys saw their section dominance end last year when Westbrook-Walnut Grove eclipsed them for a state Class A team tournament trip. But on Wednesday, they easily out-shot the Chargers. Not only that, but the top three boys individuals -- Pierson with an 81, and Cole Ahlers with an 87 -- were all from MCC.

The fourth MCC golfer, Dawson Tutt, shot a 104.

That, said Groves, adds to his team’s confidence going into this year’s sectional tournament.

“I just think that last year we just weren’t ready to compete at that level,” said the Rebel leader. “I think this year we are ready to. All four of us have improved from last year, and I think that has really helped.”

The top 10 golfers earned All-Red Rock Conference honors on Wednesday. Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s Anthony Ross finished in a tie for third place overall with an 87. Cory Renneke of HL-O/F was fifth with an 88. Trey Huisken of SWC/E was next with an 89. Joe Fischer of HL-O/F and Andrew Quade of W-WG tied with 92. Kyle Kuehl of W-WG shot a 93. Mitchell Veld of Adrian, Dylon Taubert of H-BC and Marcus Vander Lugt of SWC/E tied for 10th with 95.

Payton Marquardt of HL-O/F shot an 88 but was not eligible for all-conference honors.

On the girls’ side, Hamman carded rounds of 46 and 52 strokes for a 98 total. Third place individually went to Carley Baumann of RRC and Brittany Erickson of W-WG in a tie, with 100 strokes. Alexia Kemper of Adrian, Amber Boock of MCC and Jennifer Schelhaas of SWC/E finished in a tie for fifth with 102. Cierra Tutt of MCC placed eighth with 104. Paige Behrends of MCC was ninth at 105. And Sam Freking of HL-O/F was 10th at 106.

Van Maanen, who pronounced herself a fan of the Worthington course, did most things well on Wednesday.

“My drives were pretty good today. My chipping was OK. My putting could’ve been a little better,” she said. “Most of my hits were pretty far. That helped a lot. The distance was good.”

For Groves, who by now is probably expected by everyone to win his tournaments or finish pretty darn close to first, said he tries to ignore what others think.

“There is a little pressure. But all I can do is play my game and not play anyone else’s game. I just gotta do the best I can.”

Which is, of course, quite good.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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