By Brett Nachtigall
DELL RAPIDS – The Hot Springs Bison girls' golf team finished in seventh place overall, out of 13 teams competing at the South Dakota Class “A” State Championship last week at Rocky Run Golf Course in Dell Rapids.
Fellow Region 4A team Belle Fourche won the team title with a two-day, four-person, 36-hole total of 735 (376/359), followed by Sioux Falls Christian with a team score of 747 (371/376). Hot Springs meanwhile shot 769 to finish 10 strokes behind Madison for sixth place, and six strokes ahead of West Central in eighth place.
Individually, a total of 88 golfers competed with the top-three placewinners all from the Black Hills as Payson Birkeland of Belle Fourche earned state medalist honors with a two-day, 36-hole total of 159 (75/84), followed by Alex Kandolin of St. Thomas More as the runner-up with 160 (78/82) and then Jade Burr of Belle Fourche in third place with 162 (83/79).
An unusual occurrence however took place at the conclusion of the tournament which greatly effected both the individual and team standings, when Sioux Falls Christian's Kate Wynja mistakenly signed an incorrect scorecard. She had actually shot the best two-day score to win the individual championship and propel her team to the team title as well. However, signing an incorrect scorecard is a disqualification. Wynja, herself, was the one who first realized the mistake and pointed it out to officials.
Hot Springs was well-represented in the individual competition as well, with three players earning top-25 medals, led by junior Aryona Watts with a 17th place finish by shooting a 183 (92/91), followed by junior Madilyn Palo in 20th place with a 189 (97/32) and junior Malory Olstad tying for 24th place with a 192 (98/94).
The team's youngest competitors – freshman Jessi Schroeder and eighth-grader Sydney Olstad – meanwhile tied for 53rd place as each shot a 208. Olstad shot 102/106 while Schroeder went 105/103 over the two-day, 36-hole competition.
All five of Hot Springs state tournament qualifiers will be returning next year, which is something Hot Springs Coach Dave Merrill was very excited to point out after their trip home from state.
“As coaches we are very proud of this team and are confident we will be at the state meet again next year with high expectations,” he said.
Earlier this week, on Monday, June 11, the golf team held its annual end-of-year awards banquet where all of the aforemention state qualifiers earned letters, as did Adrianna Krush and manager Jacob Harris. Seventh-grader Allyson Kattke was also named the team's Most Improved Golfer.
Photo by Rod Watts
Members of the Hot Springs Bison girls' golf team jump in unison on Southern Hills Golf Course's ninth green.