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Rachel Nelson is looking to make a return trip to the state meet in her senior season. She finished in a tie for 36th place at the 2012 state tournament. She is also the defending Heart O’ Lakes Conference Medalist and will challenge a host of golfers from the defending state champion Detroit Lakes team at Sections. Photos by Robert Williams/FOCUS

Golf runs in the family for Rachel Nelson

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PERHAM — For Perham senior Rachel Nelson, golf is in the gene pool.

“Being a Nelson it kind of runs in the family,” she said.

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Nelson has had an impressive senior year already. She is a member of the Section qualifying Speech team that is still in contention for a state trip.

She was also nominated for the MSHSL league AAA distinction, along with Mark Huebsch.

Nelson is the only returning golfer from either the boys or girls teams who made a trip to the state meet in Jordan, Minn., last season.

“I knew I could get to state.”

Rachel Nelson will lead the Perham girls golf team in a battle for the conference and even bigger fight for the Section title.

Nelson shot 177 over the two-day event, good for a tie for 36th place.

After a nervous first round 49, she carded 42, 43, 43.

“I settled in and lost it a little bit. The second day, I played a lot better.”

Nelson continued a run of Perham girls’ golfers at state following in the footsteps of Holly Karkela and Kaylan Huber, who were mainstays at Ridges of Sand Creek Golf Course.

Karkela and Huber had each other and boys regulars Dan Cavanagh and Evan Arvig at the tournament. Nelson made herfirst trip by herself.

“I was all by myself,” she said. “I tried to live up to Holly a little bit. That’s so hard. The fact that we had such a great golfer there before and I kind of had some shoes to fill – that kind of motivated me too.”

After losing two con-sistent seniors in 2012, Nelson led the team as a junior in a year where the section was clogged by state medalist Kate Smith, an eighth-grader, on the eventual state championship team, rival Detroit Lakes.

“I don’t even count them anymore,” Nelson said of the Lakers. “It’s just obvious they’re making it. I kind of went into the year knowing it would be more of an individual year.”

The team goal is the conference title.

Perham finished last season runners-up in the Heart O’ Lakes to Pelican Rapids by 26 strokes.

“I definitely think we can take the conference. Pelican lost some people.”

Unlike the Yellowjackets, who bring back an experienced group led by four seniors: Nelson, Lexi Richter, Destiny Mitchell and Michaela Soule.

“Lexi will give us scores we’ll want and will need. If Destiny golfs to her full po-tential she can make to state too.”

The foursome will be complimented by a young and talented freshman Becca Huus.

“I have a lot of faith in Becca Huus. I think she’s going to get to state.”

Huus missed a trip to state by one stroke as an eight-grader.

One stroke played an important part in Perham’s playoff fun last season.

They qualified for the Section 8AA meet by nipping Wadena-Deer Creek and Fergus Falls by one swing.

Both schools scored 392 to Perham’s third place score of 391.

Nelson’s score of 83 led to a fifth place finish. She was the only golfer in the top five not from Detroit Lakes.

DL won the Section by a 69-stroke difference and took the top three positions with three golfers shooting in the 70’s.

Nelson qualified for state with an 88.

Keeping up with the Lakers will be a tall task for Head Coach Cory Solberg and the Lady Jackets come time for Sections in a season where weather is going to crunch the schedule.

“It’s nice to get out and go to the bubble and swing. I wish I could hop a flight to somewhere warm.”

Perham Lakeside remains under snow banks and may not open until late April or even early May.

Solberg will have his hands full coaching golf through the early season without a course to play on.

“We have three outstanding seniors this year in Rachel Nelson, Destiny Mitchell, and Lexi Richter who will provide fantastic leadership for us,” Solberg said. “We will be hitting into the net to start our season, and then jumping right into our season.”

When the golf teams actu-ally get on the course, they are going to have to get up to speed and get their individual games in tune quickly to keep Perham’s streak of state appearances going.

State qualifiers from both boys and girls golf can go a long way in keeping Perham near the top of the Minnesota State High School League Challenge Cup.

Perham is the only public school winner of the Cup, having done so in 2008. The Yellowjackets are currently in fourth place in the Cup standings with 150 points as of the latest scoring update in December. After the winter seasons, which had state trips from wrestling, gymnastics, boys swimming and basket-ball, the race should tighten up.

“It’s kind of a lot to live up to, especially, with the boy,” Nelson said of Perham’s state successes this season. “I definitely think we can bring in some individual points.”

Spring Sports Previews are available in the April 11 Perham Focus, available on newsstands now.

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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