Girls repeat as Section 2AAA golf champs

The New Prague Trojan girls golf team won the Section 2AAA championship Wednesday at Ridges at Sand Creek GC and earned the opportunity to defend their State championship Tuesday and Wednesday, June 11 and 12 at Bunker Hills GC in Coon Rapids. Pictured are, left to right, Assistant Coach Aaron denHartog, Catie Barr, Lucy Nickolay, Danni Barr, Taylor Ledwein, Taylor Krouse, Kenzie Neisen and Coach Dan Holgate. 

Kenzie Neisen doesn't play golf like most people.

The New Prague High School junior approached the final hole of the Section 2AAA tournament Tuesday, June 4, believing she needed a good finish to give her team its third Section 2AAA golf championship in four years. The previous day, playing the ninth hole, she put her first shot in the 18th fairway and that gave her a good approach to the ninth green.

But this time, she pushed it a little too far to the right, and the wind carried it into a water hazard.

After a long search, someone found her ball and she and coach Dan Holgate looked at her options. The ball was unplayable, so she would be able to take a onestroke penalty and make a drop. But Neisen didn’t like the area next to the water hazard and instead went about 15 yards back from the hole, as the rules allow, to the top of a berm, and dropped from there. Her shot hit the green but rolled about 40 yards past the hole, to the edge of the green.

From there, Neisen calmly surveyed the green, approached the ball and struck it. She watched it roll, and as it got closer, a smile went on her face. Cheers erupted as the ball dropped into the cup. Just your normal, run of the mill par 4... and another Section Championship for the Trojans.

It turned out that the team scoring wasn’t as close as it was believed. The Trojans had a nine-stroke lead after the first day of competition, but shot 23 strokes higher on the second day, leaving the door open for Eden Prairie and Prior Lake to mount a challenge. However, both teams had similar problems with the windy, rainy weather and while both teams cut into the Trojan lead, they couldn’t make up the difference from day one.

New Prague finished with a two-day total of 679, with Eden Prairie second at 686 and Prior Lake third at 691. Chaska finished fourth at 705.

It was an emotional win for the Trojans, who wore pins commemorating Coach Matt Shetka, who guided the team to last year’s state championship. Shetka died of a heart attack in December.

The Trojans will have the opportunity to defend their state championship Tuesday and Wednesday at Bunker Hills GC in Coon Rapids.

Neisen finished in a tie with Alex Schmid of Shakopee for medallist honors with a 70-76—146. First round co-leader Brenna Lervick of Chanhassen was one stroke back with a 70-77— 177. the Trojans’ Taylor Ledwein finished eighth, scoring 82-79—161. Other Trojans were Taylor Krouse 89-94— 183, Danni Barr 87-108— 195; Lucy Nickolay 100- 102—202 and Caitie Barr 108-109—117.