Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Watertown takes over down the stretch to capture first state golf title since 1979

By admin Jun11,2024

YANKTON — A really, really good year for Watertown High School’s golf programs culminated with another state Class AA championship on Tuesday.

Last fall, Watertown’s boys snapped a 52-year drought by winning the state Class AA tournament and Watertown’s girls followed suit on Tuesday by rallying to win the state Class AA tourney at the Hillcrest Golf and Country Club.

The title was the third in school history for the Arrow girls, who hadn’t won since taking back-to-back state Class A titles in 1978 and 1979.

“It was a fantastic year for the Arrow golf. I think it’s been a long time coming because a lot of kids who have been a part of these teams the last few years have put in so much work,” Watertown head boys and girls coach Corey Neale said.

Watertown High School's girls golf team won the state Class AA championship on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at the Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton. The title is the first for the Arrows since they won back-to-back state Class A titles in 1978 and 1978. Team members include, from left, head coach Corey Neale, Carighan Klatt, Shelby Pearson, Aspen Reynolds, Avery Palmquist, Gabi Olson and Natalie Pearson.Watertown High School's girls golf team won the state Class AA championship on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at the Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton. The title is the first for the Arrows since they won back-to-back state Class A titles in 1978 and 1978. Team members include, from left, head coach Corey Neale, Carighan Klatt, Shelby Pearson, Aspen Reynolds, Avery Palmquist, Gabi Olson and Natalie Pearson.

Watertown High School’s girls golf team won the state Class AA championship on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at the Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton. The title is the first for the Arrows since they won back-to-back state Class A titles in 1978 and 1978. Team members include, from left, head coach Corey Neale, Carighan Klatt, Shelby Pearson, Aspen Reynolds, Avery Palmquist, Gabi Olson and Natalie Pearson.

The title didn’t come easy

Winning the title, as everyone already knew, didn’t come easy for the Arrows. They opened the day in third place, one shot back of Aberdeen Central and two shots back of defending champion Mitchell.

Early on, the three teams were all tied for the lead but Mitchell started to pull away to push its lead into double digits (12 or 13 strokes) after the first nine holes.

The Arrows didn’t waver.

“I think we just all kind of finished a little bit better than the Mitchell players,” Shelby Pearson, one of three senior regulars for the Arrows, said.

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The Arrows shot the best score of the day (316), which pushed their two-day total to 649 and gave them a three-shot victory over the Kernels. Mitchell shot 321 on Tuesday and ended at 652. Aberdeen Central actually matched its first-day score (332) but slipped third at 664.

“Hillcrest is a course that is very challenging, especially when the wind is blowing and with the rain that we had most of the day,” Neale said. “It’s kind of about who can keep their emotions in check and continue to grind. You can’t let the last hole get to you, you have to keep playing.”

Watertown's Avery Palmquist hits a shot toward the No. 9 green during the final round of the South Dakota State Class AA Girls' Golf Tournament, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton.Watertown's Avery Palmquist hits a shot toward the No. 9 green during the final round of the South Dakota State Class AA Girls' Golf Tournament, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton.

Watertown’s Avery Palmquist hits a shot toward the No. 9 green during the final round of the South Dakota State Class AA Girls’ Golf Tournament, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton.

The best team, at least at state

Golf is really an individual sport, but there is a system used to determine team score. In Class AA golf in South Dakota, each team can play up to six golfers and count the top four scores for their team score each day. Often, it helps, if you’re team has one of the top couple of golfers.

Mitchell had that in senior Allison Meyerink, the returning state runner-up who rallied on the second day to shoot a 2-over-par 74 and edged Aberdeen Central sophomore and opening-day leader Olivia Braun by one shot (149-150) for medalist honors. Maddie Childs of Mitchell and Erin Hurd of O’Gorman tied for third at 156.

Meyerink’s score was 12 shots better than Watertown’s top golfers, Pearson and freshman Gabi Olson. Pearson and Olson each tied for fifth at 161. Balance and depth were the keys for the Arrows. Senior Avery Palmquist came in at seventh (164) and senior Aspen Reynolds eighth (164).

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Pearson improved by five shots on Tuesday, Palmquist three and Reynolds 10. Not bad for senior leadership.

“Winning the state title in our final meet does really make it all seem worth it,” Pearson said. “It was definitely a lot of fun.”

Junior Natalie Pearson also medaled, tying for 25th at 182. She is Shelby’s younger sister. They are the daughters of Levi Pearson, the Golf Operations Supervisor at Cattail Crossing Golf Course in Watertown. He also played on a Class B boys state championship team in 1993 at Britton.

Aberdeen Central's Emma Dohrer putts on the No. 9 green during the final round of the South Dakota State Class AA Girls' Golf Tournament, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton.Aberdeen Central's Emma Dohrer putts on the No. 9 green during the final round of the South Dakota State Class AA Girls' Golf Tournament, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton.

Aberdeen Central’s Emma Dohrer putts on the No. 9 green during the final round of the South Dakota State Class AA Girls’ Golf Tournament, Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton.

Winning the first and last tournaments

Mitchell, Aberdeen Central and Watertown battled all year in Class AA with Mitchell and Aberdeen Central mostly trading wins with the Arrows taking third. Watertown did win a season-opening meet over Mitchell in a playoff but didn’t beat the Kernels again until this week.

“We kept telling the girls that you have the opportunity to do this. There’s no reason you can’t walk away as state champions,” Neale said. “All that matters is that you’re playing your best golf at the end of the year and that’s exactlly what we did to make up those 10-12 shots over the back nine.”

Olson, the sister of state 2023 Class AA boys state champion Jake Olson, and Natalie Pearson will return next spring along with freshman Carighan Klatt, who shot 198 in her first state tournament.

Mitchell graduates Meyerink and fellow senior Quinn Dannenbring.

The likely team to beat next spring will be Aberdeen Central, which loses only one senior (Morgan Jones) and returns sophomores Braun, Emma Dohrer and Chloe Vikander and freshman Kyley Wirebaugh from its state-tourney contingent.

Final state tourney results

Team Scores — 1. Watertown 649 (333-316); 2. Mitchell 652 (333-321); 3. Aberdeen Central 664 (332-332); 4. O’Gorman 690 (345-345); 5. Sioux Falls Lincoln 716 (362-354); 6. Rapid City Stevens 729 (373-356); 7. Spearfish 746 (377-369); 8. Yankton 758 (379-379); 9. Sioux Falls Jefferson 790 (396-394); 10. Brookings 793 (405-388); 11. Brandon Valley 806 (402-402); 12. Pierre 827 (420-407); 13. Harrisburg 840 (420-420).

State Medalists (Top 25) — 1. Allison Meyerink, Mitchell 5-over-149 (75-74); 2. Olivia Braun, Aberdeen Central, 150 (72-78); 3. (Tie) Maddie Childs, Mitchell 156 (78-78) and Erin Hurd, O’Gorman 156 (78-78); 5. (Tie) Shelby Pearson, Watertown 161 (83-78) and Gabi Olson, Watertown 161 (80-81); 7. Avery Palmquist 163 (83-80); 8. (Tie) Aspen Reynolds, Watertown, 164 (87-77) and Alison Kennedy, Spearfish 164 (80-84); 10. Emma Dohrer, Aberdeen Central, 167 (82-85); 11. Quinn Dannenbring, Mitchell, 168 (87-81); 12. (Tie) Ella Homstad, Yankton 169 (80-89) and Delilah Fuls, Brookings 169 (84-85).

14. Lauren Knapp, Rapid City Stevens, 170 (86-84); 15. Kyley Wirebaugh, Aberdeen Central 171 (89-82); 16. (Abbigail Westra, Sioux Falls Lincoln, 172 (88-84) and Geneva Fredrickson, O’Gorman, 172 (87-85); 18. Paydyn Peterson, O’Gorman, 175 (87-88); 19. Chloe Vikander, Aberdeen Central, 186 (89-87); 20. (Tie) Megan Christoffels, Sioux Falls Washington 177 (90-87) and Lilly Heisinger, Sturgis, 177 (83-94); 22. (Tie) Kinley Freese, Sioux Falls Lincoln, 178 (90-88) and Payeten Reede, Spearfish, 178 (91-87); 24. Mia Larson, Mitchell, 179 (91-88); 25. (Tie) Faith Skelton, Sioux Falls Jefferson, 182 (92-90), Kamryn Shull, Rapid City Stevens, 182 (95-87) and Natalie Pearson, Watertown, 182 (89-93).

Other Area Golfers — 34. Morgan Jones, Aberdeen Central, 188 (95-93); and 49. Carighan Klatt, Watertown, 198 (101-97).

Follow Watertown Public Opinion sports reporter Roger Merriam on X (formerly known as Twitter) @PO_Sports or email: rmerriam@thepublicopinion.com

This article originally appeared on Watertown Public Opinion: Final wrap of state Class AA high school girls golf touranment at Yankton

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