Century hunts state girls golf title No. 7

Century’s cadre of senior girls golfers added another trophy to its overstuffed cases when the team won its fifth straight West Region title last Monday.

Now they hunt for something that’s eluded them since 2019: the program’s seventh state title.

“It was pretty close for most of the day,” Century coach Preston Brown said of his team’s 22-stroke win over second-place Legacy in Jamestown. “We made enough pars, enough good decisions, and had very few blow-up holes. It was later in the back nine (that things started to separate).”

Brown and co-head coach Tyce Halter’s first season at the helm of the Patriots team has been successful. The state tournament will be a good challenge to how effective their philosophies can be in tough competitions.

“Our team has taken to my and coach Halter’s style of controlling your ball,” Brown said. “We don’t want them getting the ball too high up in the air, we want them to sacrifice a little distance for better control over where the ball goes.”

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Century’s 320 at the West Region tournament was led by the Herbel sisters, playing their final high school season.

Low score for the Patriots was earned by Leah Herbel (74), who only rejoined the team late in the season due to a recurring back problem that made life difficult for the senior.

“We were trying to give her time to rest up and get ready to play competitive golf again, whether it was with us or at the next level,” Brown said. “It didn’t matter to us when she could come back, we wanted to make sure she had the time necessary to get pain-free.”

A pair of low-70s scores in Century’s final three tournaments of the season, all of which they won, is a pretty good signal that the back problems are, for now, out of the picture.

That’s a big boost to the Patriots, who are right in the thick of the championship race when the state tournament kicks off.

“She brings a mid-to-low 70s round, which should be right there for medalist honors,” Brown said. “When you can bring in another individual that can contend for a state title individually, that’s huge.”

Elsewhere on the Century roster, there was plenty of competition for state tournament spots.

While the Herbels prepare for one final tournament locked in as the No. 1 and No. 2 golfers for the Patriots — Hannah Herbel won individual state tiles in 2018, 2019, and 2020 — six other players qualified for the state tournament, which meant competition was afoot for the four remaining lineup spots.

“We held a few qualifying rounds amongst the team so we could decide our top six,” Brown said. “It’s painful to make those decisions, but you have to play your best. We’re lucky to have that kind of competition to make our team better.

“It can make it hard to choose who your players will be, but it’s a good problem to have.”

Brown mentioned improvements from a few specific golfers that will join the Herbels in the lineup.

“Aliyah Iverson has taken her game to a new level here in her senior season,” he said. “She’s been a big part of our success this season. We’re hoping she can finish in the top 10. Kambree Hauglie is a junior and had a good West Region tournament with a few slip-ups on the back nine.

“Those two have had good rounds to finish out the year.”

Brown and Halter have kept a close eye on the other teams around the state, and have a good idea as to who they will need to beat out.

Legacy’s Ava Kalanek had her best round of the year to earn medalist honors at the West Region tournament and Mandan’s Anna Huettl finished third to lead the Braves, and will be threats again for their teams at state.

“Mandan and Legacy are playing well from the West, and (Grand Forks) Red River, (Fargo) Davies and (West Fargo) Sheyenne have posted good scores out of the East,” Brown said. “They’re all well-coached teams and they play the game the right way to end up with the title.”

West Region teams just played at Jamestown Country Club, site of the state tournament, but weather may play a role in how the teams approach the course.

“Rain definitely could have an affect,” Brown said when asked about the rainy forecast for the weekend into the early part of the week. “(Jamestown) was firm and dry when we were there, and rain could completely change how the course plays. We’ll play a practice round there on Sunday and make decisions about how to approach the course then.”


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