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Good first step: A/E girls, boys lead Section 3A golf on first day

Throughout the 2021 spring golf season, the Adrian/Ellsworth and Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda girls teams have vied for top team honors, with the Dragons typically coming out on top. On Wednesday on the first day of the Section 3A tournament, one individual Dragon and one individual Coyote shared top honors. A/E senior Gracia Elias and HL-O/F junior Elly Bang both struck 96 over 18 holes at the tree-lined GreatLife Golf and Fitness Club Club in Worthington.

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Adrian Dragons Gracia Elias puts on the green at the 10th hole during the Section 3A round one play Wednesday afternoon at GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness Club at Worthington. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Throughout the 2021 spring golf season, the Adrian/Ellsworth and Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda girls teams have vied for top team honors, with the Dragons typically coming out on top.

On Wednesday on the first day of the Section 3A tournament, one individual Dragon and one individual Coyote shared top honors. A/E senior Gracia Elias and HL-O/F junior Elly Bang both struck 96 over 18 holes at the tree-lined GreatLife Golf and Fitness Club Club in Worthington.

Elias shot a first round of 43 and a second round of 53.

It was “rough at first,” she said. “Then once I started coming around, I started concentrating on the positive side, and I did real good.”

Gracia is part of a family that loves golf, and she and her sister Taya, a sophomore, do a lot of practicing together to improve their games. Gracia admitted, though, that she doesn’t like golf quite as much as gymnastics, a sport where she has starred for many seasons with the Worthington Trojans.

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“I don’t like how frustrating (golf) is,” she smiled. “Because when I hit a bad shot, I get real mad. And I don’t like walking a lot.”

There is a famous saying in golf that the sport boils down to a good walk spoiled. But Elias made sure her day wasn’t spoiled Wednesday, thanks to her ability to hit many good shots to stay in the lead.

“I was hitting my drives really well and chipping really well,” she said.

For Bang, part of Wednesday’s success can be attributed to her ability to escape the trees which line many of the Worthington fairways.

“It was pretty good,” she described her day. “I was punching out real well whenever my drives went in the trees.”

At Bang’s home course in Fulda, trees are rarely a problem. But the HL-O/F team is always prepared.

“We practice punching out a lot in Fulda. The trees here are quite thick,” she said.

Bang shot rounds of 50 and 46 for her 96.

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“I started off real good on hole 10, which was really surprising. Because I usually hit it in the water. And honestly, the rest of the round was pretty consistent,” she explained, adding that her game has been quite balanced for the whole spring.

“I’ve been shooting a lot of consistent scores. I’ve been consistently golfing in the low 50s and high 40s. And I’ve been lucky enough that my bad rounds have been in meets that don’t really matter, like not conference meets (the Red Rock Conference meet consisted of four meets this year).”

The top four teams -- Adrian/Ellsworth with 411 strokes, HL-O/F with 426, Westbrook-Walnut Grove with 459 and Hills-Beaver Creek with 469 -- earned the right to advance to Day Two competition on June 2, again in Worthington. Every player on those four teams, plus five others, move on for a chance to get to state.

The same advancing rules applied Wednesday to the Section 3A boys teams, which competed on the same Worthington course on a beautiful late May day.

Adrian/Ellsworth finished in first place for the boys on Wednesday with 360 strokes, followed by Minneota with 384, Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda with 388 and Southwest Christian/Edgerton with 391. Red Rock Conference tournament medalist Brock Henning of A/E had the best score, an 81. Hunter Schmidt of Martin County West was next with an 83, followed by Landon Runia of A/E with 86, Chase Christensen of R-T-R with 86, and Sawyer Drent of HL-O/F with 88.

Individual advancers who were not connected to the top four teams were Schmidt, Christensen, Will Carlson of Wabasso (89), Dawson Tutt of Murray County Central (92), McKade Gillette of MCC (94), Thomas Dysthe of Hills-Beaver Creek (96), Trey Veldhuisen of MCC (96), Justin Klabunde of Red Rock Central (97), Ethan Kruger of H-BC (99), Mason Gode of RRC (99) and Nathan Kuehl of Westbrook-Walnut Grove (99).

For the girls, Adrian/Ellsworth got some help from Taya, who shot a 103, and teammates Josi Altman had a 103 and Madeline Wagner 109. Adding to Bang’s 96 was Meakin Bang’s 103, Madelyn Koep’s 110 and Kelli Renneke’s 117. For W-WG, it was Lexy Herding with 102, Emma Wahl 114, Madison Martin 118 and Ivy Paplow 125. For H-BC, it was Tess Van Maanen 103, Hannah Fick 119, Tara Paulsen 123 and Makenzie Voss 124.

Other girls who advanced include Lauren Bowyer of Minneota (94), current Red Rock Conference girls medalist Brielle Vis of Southwest Christian/Edgerton (99), Shae O’Leary of Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (100), Jeren Rost of Minneota (106) and Ciera Tutt of Murray County Central (115).

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