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PHS Golf: Three Jacket golfers going to State

Leah Richter, Dan Cavanagh and Holly Karkela will compete in the Class AA State Golf Meet in Jordan this week.

By John George

A lot of what it takes to succeed at a State event has little to do with pure athletic ability. Sure, you're not getting to a Minnesota State High School League State event without some athletic talent.

But how you handle the experience that has a lot to do with if you succeed, especially in an individual sport like golf.

If you're nervous. Overwhelmed. A sense of being out of place. Not being used to the crowds. Not being used to the course. All play a factor as much as how well your hitting your driver.

This week, three Perham High School golfers will look to overcome the experience of a State event. And just play golf.

Two of those golfers, freshman Dan Cavanagh and sophomore Holly Karkela, have competed at State before. Two years ago as an eighth grader, Karkela finished 78th at the Class A Meet with a 218 (56-58/49-55) on The Sanctuary Course at Izaty's Resort in Onamia.

"I was really, really nervous," Karkela said of her first State experience. "I didn't know what to expect. What goes on. How good some golfers were and how many people watching. This time, I think I'll be more ready."

Also making a return trip is Cavanagh, who finished 80th last year as an eighth grader at the Class AA Meet with a 181 (45-46/46-44). This year's Class AA State Meet will return to Ridges at Sand Creek G.C. in Jordan.

"I was so nervous I could barely grip my club," Cavanagh said of last year's State Meet. "I was just hoping to stay near the fairway. That course is pretty hard and as an eighth grader I was just trying not to embarrass myself."

A combination of last year's trip to State, and Cavaagh's experience at the 8AA Meet last week at Longbow G.C. in Walker, have him ready for a return to Jordan.

"I wasn't really nervous at sections until the playoff," he said.

Cavanagh finished in a tie with four other golfers for the final two individual spots from the section at State. He nailed his tee shot on the second hole and secured one of the two State positions after a two-putt.

"I didn't think an 80 would geet me to State," Cavanagh said. "I felt the pressure on the first playoff hole, but advanced."

At the second playoff hole, a hole Cavanagh bogied during the regular round, he watched the other two golfers make bad tee shots.

"That helped," Cavanagh said. "I just took a breath and tried to hit it to the center of the green."

Going along with the two 'youngsters' is Leah Richter. The senior will be making her first trip to State.

"I was really excited at first (about going to State)," Richter said. "But then I got nervous thinking about the crowds. I'm not used to groups following you around."

Richter said she is more worried about her nerves than she is about her game. She was pleasantly surprised with her round at the Section 8AA Meet at Longbow last week. She went to Jordan to play the course along with Karkela on Sunday. She shot a 92 in her practice round. Karkela shot a 89.

"Now I kinda know what to expect," Richter said. "Playing it helps take some guessing out with distances and club selection."

Still, Richter's not putting a lot of pressure on herself as she prepares to represent Perham High School for the final time.

"I just want o have fun and look good," she said. A 95 or under would be decent," she added. "I don't know what to expect. I'm just glad to be going."

Cavanagh and Karkela are glad to be going as well. But they have slightly loftier goals.

"Well, I'd like to do better than last year," Cavanagh said. Smiling, he added, "That shouldn't be hard to do. Really, Id like to shoot around 150. It might be tough to go 75-75, though."

Karkela want's to go under an 85 both days.

"I think I'll be more ready this time," she said. "I'll be able to focus, but still go out and have fun."