Alex Stone, playing in her fifth state tournament, is on a pace to match or beat her best state showing of last year and could have easily been in contention or tied for the lead following the opening round Tuesday, June 13.
She carded a 5-over 41 on the front nine and fired an even-par 36 on the back in the Class 2A girls state tournament at the Ridges at Sand Creek. Her 77 had her tied for fourth place, four strokes behind first-round leader Ashlyn Guggisberg of Minnewaska heading into Day Two on Wednesday, June 14.
"She probably should have been three or four strokes better," said Pequot Lakes head coach Jon Dale. "She was only one over (on the front nine) going into the eighth hole where she hit a great drive. Then she missed her chip approach and wound up with a double bogey. That led to an errant tee shot on the ninth that got into the hazard and led to another double bogey for a 41 on the front side."
Stone regrouped on the back nine and parred every hole except the 14th when her putt lipped the hole for a bogey. She birdied the 18th to finish the back nine at even par.
"She could have hung her head after the front nine, but she fought back into contention," said Dale. "Her only flaw on the back side was when she lipped a par putt on 14, but she got the stroke back when she birdied the final hole.
"The conditions were really tough because of the wind, but the back side was more sheltered and not as windy.
"She was solid all day and has a good attitude going into (Wednesday)," said Dale. "She could easily be tied for first."
Last year Stone fired a fourth-place 150 with rounds of 78 and 72.
Wadena-Deer Creek senior McKayla Woods turned in a first-round 106 that has her tied for 79th. She carded 53s on both the front and back nines in her first state tournament appearance.
Woods teed off at noon Wednesday on the back nine and Stone went at 12:36 p.m. on the first tee.
In the Class 1A boys state tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Club, Pillager's Brady Enneking and Nate Brasel from Pine River-Backus each carded 85s that had them tied with four others for 32nd place. They were sitting 17 strokes behind leader Tommy Bratten of Blooming Prairie who came in with a 4-under 68.
Enneking, a senior, started the day with a 39 on the front nine before stumbling on the back nine with a 46. Last year as a junior, he shot an opening-round 86 and finished tied for 30th with a two-day 167.
Brasel, a senior, fired a more consistent 43 on the front and 42 on the back. Last year as a junior, he opened with 92 and came back with 89 on the second day to tie for 59th.
PR-B's Brady Raph, a freshman in his second state tournament, was tied for 42nd with a first-round 45-42--87. As an eighth-grader, he tied for 39th with an 82 opening round and two-day total of 171.
Raph teed off first of area golfers Wednesday, June 14, with a 7:39 a.m. tee time while Brasel and Enneking were scheduled for 7:48 a.m.