Mandan breaks long title drought
By Steve Thomas
The familiar and the shocking greeted links aficionados who ventured to Prairie West Tuesday for a helping of girls golf.
Dickinson senior Rachel Jahner shot a two-over-par 74 for medalist honors at the Mandan Invitational. No surprise there; she’s won five tournaments this season.
Mandan provided the shocker, taking home a tournament championship trophy for the first time in many blue moons.
“I’ve been at Mandan for five years, and before that I coached Bismarck High, so I know Mandan’s history. It’s probably been 10 or 12 years since Mandan won a tournament,” Braves coach Dean Johs said in the wake of Mandan’s first-place 351 effort.
The Braves prevailed in a close battle with Dickinson and Century, the pre-tournament favorites. Century was second with a 353 and Dickinson took third with a 357.
Johs said he started the season thinking Mandan should consistently be a No. 3 or No. 4 tournament team, but that hadn’t been the case.
“Two weeks ago we were in sixth place,” he said. “Our first tournament was our best score. In the next five tournaments we got progressively worse. We were sixth at Dickinson, third at Tom O’Leary and fourth at Williston. And now this bump.”
Mandan won with balance. Six strokes separated the Braves’ four qualifying scores. Senior Kayla Helbling led the way with an 85, followed by freshman KayCee Schulz at 87, senior Sydnie Mongeon at 88 and freshman Megan Broeckel at 91. Thus Mandan boasted three of the 11 golfers to break 90.
“They took it upon themselves to really turn it around. I’m pretty proud of them, absolutely,” Johs said.
“This is our home course, and my girls play really well on courses they’re familiar with. It was kind of a perfect storm that came together for us. We have momentum now, and we’ll have to see if we can keep it.”
Jahner was one of only two girls to break 80. Annie Nelson of Century carded a 79 for the runner-up spot.
Jahner said her five-stroke victory was largely the result of her ability to counter a brisk wind.
“The course played really tough because of the wind. Some of the toughest holes were into the wind, so I had to have a really good short game on those holes,” she said.
She played the front nine in 39 with a birdie, four bogies and four pars. Her back nine consisted of a birdie and eight pars for a 35.
Then there were the bees.
“I got stung in the left armpit on No. 13. … A lot of people got bit today,” Jahner said. “Three out of the four girls in my group got bit.”
Prairie West has been a good venue for Jahner over the years. She finished second in the state tournament there last fall, missing out on medalist honors in a three-hole sudden-death playoff. A week earlier she won the regional tournament at Prairie West.
“I really like the course layout. The distance fits my club selection, the greens are usually really nice and the course is groomed really well. It’s always fun to come and play here,” she said.
Jahner has played consistently strong golf the last three weeks, posting rounds of 76, 72, 71, 72 and 74. That’s earned her four medalist wins and a runner-up showing.
“My swing is feeling really good lately, and my short game is coming around. This season it’s all falling into place,” Jahner said. “Today’s round makes me feel really good. I left a couple of putts out there today, but for the most part I was feeling really good.”
Tuesday’s tournament was the final regular season outing for the West Region teams. Century started with three wins and Dickinson captured the last three tournaments. Mandan was the only team to intrude on the CHS-Dickinson monopoly.
The West Region tournament is scheduled for Monday at the Jamestown Country Club. A week later the state tournament begins at the Grand Forks Country Club.
Tuesday’s tournament was designated an individual state qualifier and 11 golfers made the grade. Behind Jahner and Nelson in the qualifying parade were Katie Kasper of Bismarck (83), Paige Argent of Minot (83), Riana Cooper of Dickinson (84), Helbling (85), Sierra Bennion of Jamestown (86), Schulz (87), Mongeon (88), Maria LeFevre of Jamestown (88) and Lauren Fleming of Century (89).
1. Mandan 351. 2. Century 353. 3. Dickinson 357. 4. Bismarck 361. 5. Minot 367. 6. Jamestown 381. 7. Williston 467. 8. Turtle Mountain, incomplete team.
1. Rachel Jahner, D, 74. 2. Annie Nelson, C, 79. 3. (tie) Katie Kasper, B, and Paige Argent, Min, 83. 5. Riana Cooper, D, 84.
Mandan (351): Kayla Helbling 85, KayCee Schulz 87, Sydnie Mongeon 88, Megan Broeckel 91, Cortnie Mongeon 107, Micaela Higlin 114.
Century (353): Annie Nelson 79, Lauren Fleming 89, Sydney Smith 91, Grace Doppler 94, Kayla Smith 94, Alexis Blazek 104.
Dickinson (357): Rachel Jahner 74, Riana Cooper 84, Rachel Lantz 92, Sydney Charchenko 107, Katherine Kessel 107, Kelsey Yon 119.
Bismarck (361): Katie Kasper 83, Carissa Craven 92, Gretta Gilje 92, Taylor Miller 94, Kylie Bergan 98, Irelyn Huntley 100.
Minot (367): Paige Argent 83, Evie Reynolds 93, Hallie Williamson 95, McKinley Bender 96, MaKensy Arlien 105, Marley Foltz 105.
Jamestown (381): Sierra Bennion 86, Maria LeFevre 88, Sarah Azure 100, Kaitlin Mullowney 107, Savannah Kramlich 112, Mara LeFevre 116.
Williston (467): Jami Wells 108, Whitney Pflug 115, Ella Pederson 118, Emily Alton 126, Madison Mehlhoff 126. Turtle Mountain (no team score): Gia Davis 117, Nevaeh Davis 136, Tyra Jerome 145.
NOTE: Scores of 89 or better qualified for the state tournament.