Twice the winning, but half the fun.
South Border eighth grader Emily St. Aubin took medalist honors for the second straight spring at the state Class B girls golf tournament on Wednesday. She shot a 75 at Tom O'Leary Golf Course to finish with a 155 and an eight-stroke victory
But, she admitted, the thrill wasn't quite the same as 2016 when she took individual honors and led South Border to the team title.
Fargo Oak Grove, second last spring, passed South Border to the tune of 722-734 to win its first state golf championship.
"It's too bad we didn't have the team championship today, too, but Oak Grove has a wonderful team. They've come close and were second last year, so it's nice they finally got one," St. Aubin said.
Dan Martinson, in his 10th season as the Oak Grove coach, said Wednesday's championship was more than a golf title.
"This is the first state championship an all-Oak Grove girls team has had in school history," he said.
The Grovers did it in style. They shot a 359 at Tom O'Leary on Tuesday to take a 15-point lead over South Border and posted a 363 on Wednesday to eclipse the Mustangs by 12 strokes, 722 to 734. It was strictly a two-team duel. No other team came in under 750.
Four Oak Grove girls broke 200, led by junior Lauren Cain, the first-day individual leader and medalist runner-up at 163. Senior Amber Muir with a 176, senior Jessica McKay with a 187 and sophomore Amanda Roller with a 196 followed.
South Border also had four individuals score under 200 -- St. Aubin with her 155, junior Rachel Reub with a 190, junior Madison Braaten with a 191 and eighth grader Alexis Kempf with a 198.
"We have no seniors, so we'll all be back again next year," St. Aubin noted.
Martinson said this year's lineup includes four holdovers from the 2016 runner-up team that finished five strokes in arrears of South Border. He said the Grovers played like veterans all spring, and around May Day found another gear.
"In our region (Region 2) we've done pretty well. Last year and this year we've been pretty solid. Our scores have been consistent. About a month ago or so we started cutting strokes," Martinson related. "After last year they knew the goal was there. You could just see it."
When Oak Grove jumped out to a 15-stroke lead on Tuesday, Martinson had no intention of trying to rein his athletes in by asking them to play it safe.
"I told them to do what they've been doing all year long. I thought if we scored in the 350s or 360s it would force (other teams) to go really low to beat us," he observed.
St. Aubin, who won last season as a 13-year-old, trailed Cain 79-80 after Tuesday's 18 holes But she upped the ante on Wednesday. She carded a 39 going out and a 36 coming in for a six-over-par 75.
Cain shot a pair of 42s on Wednesday to finish with a 163.
At 14, St. Aubin is already a veteran of tournament golf. She began playing on the Dakota Junior Golf Association tour at age 10, so she's accustomed to the tournament atmosphere.
"You just have to focus on your own game. ... My goal today was just to do better than yesterday. Yesterday I had a rough day putting ... but today most of them were falling," she said.
St. Aubin said it's not unusual for her to play better as a tournament progresses.
"I usually have a rough start, but I end up playing better at the end," she said.
Although she played the entire season as the defending state champion, St. Aubin said she doesn't feel like a target. Her attention is elsewhere.
"I always focus on doing better than I did last year at each tournament we play, and have fun doing it," she said. "If you're not having fun, there's not much point in doing it."