CARRINGTON - For Heart River's Katie Keator, her chance at an individual state championship all comes down to one final round.
After day one of the Class B Girls Golf State Tournament, the senior finds herself near the top of the leaderboard. Locked in a three-way tie for second with Tioga sophomore Asha Valliere and Kindred seventh-grader Avery Bartels, Keator shot a first-round score of 82 on Tuesday, May 28, from the Crossroads Golf Club.
Despite her placement in the standings, Keator knows the last 18 holes of her high school career have to go far better than the previous 18.
"I'm actually pretty disappointed in my day, because I played well, but I had a couple bad holes. And I told myself before I came out here today that I can't have bad holes, that I can't afford to have any because it's the state tournament," Keator said. "So, that's what set me apart, and if I would've cleared those bad holes, I'd be up and I'd have a lot better shot."
South Border sophomore Emily St. Aubin, a three-time defending state champion, is the clubhouse leader after day one with a six-shot lead over the trio in second.
Keator said she hit her driver well and was fairly happy with her short game, but she could not recover from a triple bogey on the third hole and a rough stretch on the back-nine, where she was six over par. Eager to redeem herself, Keator is still well within striking distance and intends to be aggressive.
"I'm excited. It's my senior year and I came here wanting to win, so I have to do everything I can to try," Keator remarked. "I can't play it safe tomorrow, I have to go for it. I have to take risks if I want to win."
In the team standings, the Bowman County girls golf team is within reach of the lead, as it sits in third place with a combined score of 358. The Bulldogs are nine strokes behind first-round leader Kindred.
"Just proud, I'm extremely proud of the girls," Bowman County head coach Todd Frie said. "We tried to set a relaxed mindset. They've been in these tournaments before; some of them are in their fifth year in the state tournament. They've been down this road before, they know what it takes to compete at this level. ... We're excited to be where we're at."
Frie and one of his assistant coaches were each able to guide their players through a portion of the course, with one always stationed on the front nine, and the other on the back nine. Their presence aided in producing low marks.
Region 5 Senior Athlete of the Year Brooke Peterson is alone in ninth with an 85. Tied with the likes of Cougars sophomore Campbell Clarys and Beach senior Malia Cunningham for 13th, Bulldogs eighth-grader tied her season-best by putting up an 88.
Tied for 25th with Mott-Regent senior Alora Warner, Bowman County senior Emily Belland earned her career-best score of 92, while junior teammate Elise Fischer is one shot back in a tie for 30th.
"We're in it," Frie said. "We prepared all season to place in this tournament. We wanted to be at least top three in the state, we knew we could do that. That was our goal from the beginning of the year and the state championship was a possibility. I don't want to get in anyone's head or anything, but I just tell them that we're in contention. ... Regardless of how we finish tomorrow, it's going to be a good tournament for us, and a state championship would be incredible."
As far as for the defending state champions, Heart River is 16 shots off the pace in fourth.
"They didn't play up to their capabilities today, most of 'em anyways," Heart River head coach Kirby Robb said. "They're shooting way over what they usually shoot here. We practiced all week and shot way lower scores than these. The second day is kind of usually where we show our colors. We're hoping that history repeats itself because last year, we didn't play well the first day either and the second day we played really well. I'm hoping for the same type of history."
Class B Girls Golf State Tournament
At Crossroads Golf Club
(After 18 of 36 holes)
Team standards: 1, Kindred, 349. 2, Linton-HMB, 352. 3, Bowman County, 358. 4, Heart River, 365. 5, Langdon, 366. 6, Grafton, 370. 7, Carrington, 379. 8, Napolean/G-S, 380. 9, Edgeley-Kulm, 381. 10, Northern Lights, 388. 11, Dunseith, 410. 12, Des Lacs-Burlington, 414. 13, Park River, 415. 14, Stanley, 416. 15, Oak Grove, 430. 16, Velva, 433. 17, Beach, 461. 18, Tioga, 472.
Individual standings: 1, Emily St. Aubin, South Border, 76. T2, Asha Valliere, T, 82. T2, Avery Bartels, K, 82. T2, Katie Keator, HR, 82. T5, Syd Blum, LHMB, 83. T5, Savannah Ullyott, C, 83. T7, Ainsley McLain, G, 84. T7, Bailey Hulm, LHMB, 84. 9, Brooke Peterson, BC, 85. T10, Alaina Pulczinski, K, 86. T10, Lexi Page, C, 86.
Other local scores: T13, Bailey Peterson, BC, 88. T13, Campbell Clarys, HR, 88. T13, Malia Cunningham, B, 88. T25, Alora Warner, Mott-Regent, 92. T25, Emily Belland, BC, 92. T30, Elise Fischer, BC, 93. T41, Grace Nantt, HR, 95. T41, Logan Blankenbaker, BC, 95. T46, Alexis Lamb, B, 96. T62, Molly Robb, HR, 100. T64, Harley Lardy, 101. T69, Maddie Jarrett, HR, 102. T89, Mackenzee Schneider, HR, 110. 116, Shelby Tczap, B, 137. 119, Sydnee Steele, B, 140.