There was thunder, lightning, wind and a rain delay of over an hour on Monday at Prairie West Golf Course in Mandan.
None of it was a match for the arresting performance of the St. Mary's golf team, though
Junior Sydney Smith shot a two-over par 35-39 -- 74 to lead the Saints to the first-day lead at the state Class A girls golf tournament. St. Mary's shot a 323 to take a nine-stroke lead on runner-up Grand Forks Red River.
Minot with a 341, Mandan at 347 and West Fargo Sheyenne at 358 round out the top five in the 12-team field. Century came in at 373 for seventh place.
The 82 golfers return to the Prairie West links at 10 a.m. today to complete the two-day tournament.
St. Mary's set the stage for Monday's strong showing by winning the West Region tournament a week earlier at Prairie West. Smith was the medalist in that event, as well.
"I had a really good feeling coming into the (state) tournament. I was really confident the way I was hitting the ball," said Smith, who was an all-region performer last winter in basketball.
Smith added sparkle to her round by carding the day's only eagle, a two-under-par 2 on the 265-yard eighth hole.
"I drove the green and had probably an eight-foot putt," Smith said.
It was her second eagle at Prairie West this season.
"I chipped in from 70 yards out for an eagle on (hole) No. 2 in the Mandan tournament," she said.
Smith said she managed to avoid any nasty holes, carding an eagle, a birdie and five bogeys.
"On hole 17 I thought 'if I par the last two holes I'll shoot even par' ... and that got into my head," Smith said.
Otherwise, she just kept focused on the task at hand, winds ranging from 20 to 25 mph notwithstanding.
"I stayed calm the whole time. If I had a poor shot I wouldn't get upset about it, I'd just concentrate on my next shot," she said. "... On hole 11 I hit the ball into a hazard ... and made a bogey."
Likewise, the Saints stayed on an even keel. They were at 163 after nine holes and covered the second nine in 160. Red River followed a 169 with a 163. Mandan slipped over the second nine, shooting a 170-177 and Minot shot an uneven 163-178.
Smith said Prairie West, relatively flat without an excess of trees, can produce some low scores.
"If you hit it straight, you can shoot good scores. It's pretty wide open," she noted."
Monday's top 20 scorers all came in under 90.
The Saints took the lead by posting four scores in the 70s and 80s. Tonya Dvorak followed Smith with an 81, Taylor Miller shot an 82 and Abby Schmidt logged an 86. Gabby Easton, St. Mary's No. 5 scorer, also broke 90 with an 88.
Defending team champion Fargo Davies stands ninth going into today's action at 406. A new medalist is assured. Jennifer Marsh of Davies, the individual champion the last two autumns, graduated last spring.