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Karkela perfect in the conference

Holly Karkela makes an approach chip to the 18th green at Wildflower during the Heart O' Lakes Conference championship meet Tuesday afternoon.

Each Heart O' Lakes Conference golf meet is held on a different course in a different area of the region but this year, one thing has been constant.

Holly Karkela is coming to that course and she is going to walk away the medalist whether her teammates or competitors like it or not.

On Tuesday, she wrapped up the conference sweep by taking the Heart O' Lakes Championship meet at Wildflower shooting a 41 on the front side, which was tops of any golfer and tying for second on the back nine with a 44.

"I expected to win," Karkela said. "At the beginning of the year, I thought I had a good chance at winning them all. But everyone can have a bad day. Like today, I had a bad day."

If Holly's bad days lead to firsts in the conference, competitors at sections and the state tournament need to be wary.

For the most part, Karkela has kept with what works for her game, not changing much in her swing or routine.

With her past successes, reaching the state tournament as an eighth-grader and continuing to make state appearances, culminating in a top-10 finish last year as a junior, there isn't much that needs to be tinkered around.

"I've really been focusing on a smooth rhythm with my swing."

Her smooth rhythm has translated to nothing but victories on the course, perhaps, to the chagrin of her teammates, some of whom have finished a stroke or two back of Karkela at a number of meets.

"They've all been playing really good this year," she said. "It's good they got the experience of seeing Kaylan and I and they'll be ready to step up and be leaders next year."

Fellow senior Kaylan Huber has been on Karkela's heels all year and sits second in the conference in scoring average. She made her first trip to state last year and has a solid chance of returning.

Karkela has not won every meet she has entered. There has been some stiff competition in the section. Karkela, like many great golfers, doesn't look at how she compares to the competition.

She concentrates on herself.

"What I'm focused on is playing the absolute best I can and hopefully, it will work out for the best."

The best will be a return trip to Ridges at Sand Creek, in Jordan, Minn., site of the state tournament; a place where Karkela feels quite comfortable and familiar.

"I know the course. I played great last year and I'm hoping to go there and win it."

While no small feat, at the pace she is on, that result is certainly plausible.

Conference meet results were not available at time of press Tuesday evening, but look for extended golf coverage of both the boys and girls teams in the June 2 FOCUS newspaper and online Thursday, May 26.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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