FARGO, N.D. — Wahpeton entered the Girls Class A State Golf Tournament Oct. 4-5 as the sixth-place team in the east region, set to tee off against the Eastern Dakota Conference leaders, Fargo Davies and Fargo Shanley, and a powerful west region.
The Huskies opened with a 350 team score and shot a season-best 345 in their final round to secure sixth place with a 695. The top five teams were Davies (629), Bismarck Century (649), Mandan (659), Shanley (660) and Bismarck Legacy (689).
Anaka Lysne shook off a trio of bogeys to start the back nine on Championship Tuesday, driving the green from 260 yards out on hole No. 14 to fight her way back to a fourth-place finish. Following the tournament, Lysne was announced as the North Dakota Class A Powerade Outstanding Senior Athlete.
“I worked really hard this year and I was really striving for that,” Lysne said of the award. “Winning state was one thing, but just working hard all year and playing all year … it felt good.”
Lysne led the charge with an opening-round 76 (+4), leaving her four strokes behind the leader, three-time defending state champion Hannah Herbel of Century. The Wahpeton senior finished Monday’s round with five pars and two birdies over the final seven holes.
On Tuesday, Lysne’s 39 on the front was overshadowed by Wahpeton freshman Halle Miller, who sunk several big shots for a 37 to start the day. Miller finished 19th overall with an 82 on the tournament’s second leg and a 167 total score.
“Halle made three birdies in the first five holes and didn’t have a par until No. 5,” Huskies Head Coach Jeff Ralph said. “Just the confidence of knowing the golf course a little bit and knowing she was in control of her golf swing. It was something I’ve been waiting for because I’ve seen flashes of it.”
Lysne’s group, which included Herbel and Anna Huettl (Mandan), had to fight for every stroke. Lysne sank a 15-footer to save for par early and Herbel hit water three holes later, putting a two-stroke dent in her lead.
Like a shark in water, Lysne smelled blood and attacked on No. 14, crushing her drive 260 yards and staying left of the trees to hit the green.
“After she came off a birdie on No. 13 I said, ‘Let’s plunk a hybrid up there and see what we can do,’ she looked at me like I was crazy. I was kidding,” Ralph said. “That was as confident a golf swing as she’s had all year, she knew where the ball was going right when it came off the face.”
Despite teeing off first all afternoon, Herbel let Lysne have honors on No. 15. The Huskies’ leader pegged the green and calmly made her par-three. Herbel answered with a six-foot par putt to hold off the senior star.
Ultimately, the deficit was too much for Lysne to overcome, as she finished with a 77 (+5), climbing six spots in the standings from her 11th place finish as a junior to earn all-state honors.
Herbel missed a short putt to clinch her fourth-straight state title on the final hole, putting her in a playoff with Davies’ Lexi Bartley. Five holes later, Bartley dethroned the Century junior to claim the tournament crown.
McKena Koolmo shot a season-best 90 in round one. She nearly matched that with a 91 the following day.
“If McKena shoots her average of 97 or 98, we’re probably dropping to eighth or ninth as a team,” Ralph said. “I think her rounds at region and state kind of set the bar going into her senior year as a leader for our team. Her two rounds at state were crucial to our team success.”
Lysne is a huge loss for the program, but Wahpeton returns with a hungry group of Huskies that showed consistent growth throughout the 2021 campaign.
“I think Halle stepped up and showed the state that she’s ready to be one of the best golfers,” Ralph said. “The steps happened last fall and winter when we worked in the offseason. They just got that confidence and learned how to play competitive golf. Hopefully we can set the standard for the golf program moving forward.”
Wahpeton’s complete list of state tournament scorers was Lysne (153), Miller (167), Koolmo (181), Lily Anderson (195), Scout Woods (196) and Olivia Hansen (204). Lysne was the only senior golfer for Wahpeton. Miller joined her as the only other Huskie with a top-20 finish.