Huus qualifies for state with 80, Nelson wins thrilling playoff to advance
WALKER — All freshman Becca Huus could do was watch after qualifying for the state meet with an 80 as teammate and senior Rachel Nelson was forced to a three-way playoff for the final state qualifying spot after carding an 87.
“I’m just really happy,” Huus said. “It was really stressful. My drives were working today. It was pretty good; my putter was iffy, but overall I just did it.”
The state meet can be an intimidating tournament to golf alone, as Nelson found out last season, and having a teammate makes a world of difference. Huus was happy but pensive awaiting the results of three holes of playoff golf that had emotions swaying with each club stroke.
Emotions roiled in Nelson, as well. After finishing her round she was stone-faced and disappointed awaiting fellow competitors to finish to see if she would even be in a playoff. Worry turned to jubilation as she stormed to the practice green as final scores were posted and she was joined by Park Rapids senior Hannah Williams and Crookston eighth-grader Maddie Nicholls, all tied with scores of 87.
“I was actually looking forward to it,” Nelson said. “I was praying for a playoff after the first nine.
The first playoff hole was No. 10 at Long Bow Golf Club, a par four, 445-yard slight dogleg to the right. A crowd of spectators followed the three golfers up the fairway as Nicholls succumbed to the pressure and was eliminated before reaching for a putter.
Williams had a short chip from the front of the green that nearly ended the playoff early coming to rest at the lip of the hole, which made Nelson’s chip from the back of the green all the more important. Nelson’s ball landed softly and slipped to within three feet of the cup. In a tense quiet, Nelson made the putt to tie Williams’ par five.
“(Williams) played really well,” said Nelson. “She had some really good shots.”
More drama ensued on the 11th hole when Williams found the trees back left of the green on her second shot. Nelson had lain up in the fairway short of the green with a good look at the hole. Williams took relief from her lie and found a way through some trees with a punch to the green. Nelson’s hit her approach shot light and it failed to touch the putting surface. Both players worked around the hole and tapped in for bogey fives. Williams' nifty save and Nelson's flop shot short added to the intensity.
The third playoff hole was a par three, 130-yard poke. Nelson’s tee shot landed pin-high left of the green. Williams overshot the green and had a blind shot over a mound to the pin. Nelson’s chip landed six feet inside where Williams’ ball eventually rested and would get a look at her par putt on a nearly similar line from Williams. Williams missed leaving Nelson a shot at the win. She drilled the putt and the loudest and most emotional response to that putt came from Becca Huus. The two teammates sprinted to a teary embrace at the side of the green...happy tears.
“I don’t know where my putting came from,” said Nelson.
In a preview story before the season started, Nelson had named Huus as the next Perham’s girls golfer to make a state appearance. In the past four years, the team has sent players to Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan and Huus now joins her teammate Nelson, Kaylan Huber and Holly Karkela in a string of recent golf success. With Nelson’s graduation, Huus will put her mark on leading next year’s team with her first state appearance and doing so as a freshman harkens back to recent Perham golf history. Nelson, in turn, earns a repeat trip to state and caps off an impressive senior season.
“I really love ending with a bang I guess,” she said. “Loved every second of that playoff.”
Nelson battled down the stretch, both on the course and in her head, especially during the tense hour after she had completed her round awaiting a chance to keep playing.
“I was devastated because it was my last year,” she said. “Now I’m just ecstatic. I don’t even care that it was an 87. I just had to get there and I just feel like a weight is off my shoulders.”
Huus is the youngest Perham girls golfer to make it to state in the recent era since Karkela appeared as an eighth-grader.
Huus also had the low score of the five state individual qualifiers and a fifth place overall score with her 80. Detroit Lakes’ Matty Tscider was Medalist with a 76 and three more defending Laker state champions finished above Huus: Trisa Hutchinson-77, Natalie Roth-78, and Emma Thompson 79.
Perham’s Destiny Mitchell missed making the playoff a foursome one stroke back shooting an 88.
In team results, Detroit Lakes won handily shooting 310. Perham finished runners- up with a 358. Liz Sonnenberg shot 103 to join Huus, Nelson and Mitchell in the four top qualifying Perham team scores. Park Rapids finished third 390, followed by Roseau and Wadena-Deer Creek - 392, and Crookston - 394. The Lakers won with arguable, their best golfer, Kate Smith, shooting a an 82, fifth on the team. DL looks primed for a repeat state title after dominating Section 8.
Between the Perham bookends in the top five state qualifying list between Huus and Nelson are Megan Niblock of Fergus Falls - 83, Alexa Bekkerus of Pelican Rapids - 84, and Mariena Dearsty of Park Rapids - 86.
On the boys side, Perham’s three golfers Nick Kalina, Nick Bahls and Blake Kunza had frustrating days. Kalina and Bahls shot 82; Kunza carded an 86. All three failed to qualify for the trip to Jordan.
“Started off good, but toward the end it kind of fell off at the end,” Kalina said.
Complete boys results have not been received as of this posting and will appear in a later update.
Section 8AA Girls Golf
Long Bow Golf Club, Walker, Minn. - Monday, June 3
Team scores: Detroit Lakes 310, Perham 358, Park Rapids 390, Roseau 392, Wadena-Deer Creek 392, Crookston 394.
Perham Individuals: Huus 80, Nelson 87, Mitchell 88, Sonnenberg 103, Michaela Soule 127, Danielle Graham 127.
State individiual qualifiers: Huus 80, Niblock 83, Bekkerus 84, Dearsty 86, Nelson 87.
DL Individuals: Tschider 76, Hutchinson 77, Roth 78, Thompson 79, Smith 82, Busker 83.
Section 8AA Boys Golf:
Team scores: Detroit Lakes 295, Roseau 316, Crookston 320, Fergus Falls 324, Hawley 334, Thief River Falls 336.
Perham Individuals: Bahls 82, Kalina 82, Kunza 86.