After putting together a streak of sub-80 scores, Grand Forks Red River sophomore Jaya Grube posted an 88 at the Fargo North Invitational and a 93 at the Sheyenne Invitational. Then she roared back with some of her best golf this year and narrowly missed out on a regional crown after carding a 76 at the East Region tournament.
Now, heading into the state tournament, Grube and the Roughriders are aiming to continue the mission of topping the EDC mainstays in Fargo Davies and Shanley. It’s something they have been chasing since the start of the season.
“You can’t be someone you’re not. We have to be comfortable being who we are and play our best. It hasn’t always been easy,” Red River coach Eric Sanders said. “We’ve played this course well a couple of times now so I think we should be confident going into this week.”
For Grube, a shot at the individual title is not out of the question. The sophomore ranked in the top five in the EDC through most of the season before her decline in September. At the end of the month, Grube grabbed her second individual win at the West Fargo Invitational, shared with Adie Wagner of Fargo South and Davies’ Lexi Bartley.
Even during that tough stretch in September, Grube was still the best performing golfer for the Roughriders each week. The sophomore, along with senior Jaydn Arel, has been tasked with being a leader on and off the scorecard. For young golfers like Grube and Arel, as Sanders said, this can be a lot.
“What was happening a lot was this idea of ‘well I was good, but am I still?’” he said. “It's not something that just totally disappears. Golf is such a mental game that it can be easy to take that and go ‘I guess I’m not as good as I once was.’ But to come back and play as well as Jaya and Jadyn have and hit the ball as well as they have, even after having doubts. To know that you belong and believe that we belong in that position is pretty cool to watch happen.”
Grube and Arel will be up against the Davies powerhouse trio of Rose Solberg, Ava Olson and Bartley, as well as Bismarck Century’s Hannah and Leah Herbel.
The Davies group has won a combined five tournaments this year, with Solberg winning the East regional. They have each averaged a score of 78.8, 78.9 and 79, respectively, and sit just ahead of Grube’s 80.1 average.
Leah and Hannah Herbel are on another level in the West Region as they have averaged a score of 74 and 76.2 coming into Fargo this week.
While it has been an uphill battle for all the Red River golfers this season, the thought of chasing any particular score is no longer a thought.
“We want to be better every day and we’ve talked about that a lot. I’m not expecting everything to be perfect, but I think we’ll go out and compete to the best of our ability,” Sanders said. “Last week (Arel) had her scorecard open and I said ‘Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare look at that thing again.’ Because that does not matter, its the golf swing that matters. Whatever happens to that score, as crazy as it is, you can’t control it,”
Grube’s ball striking and swing, Sanders said, have been her strongest attributes all year. That will need to continue at Edgewood Golf Course, but where she stands to climb the leaderboard is through her play on the greens.
“If she can make some putts that’s the key, and it almost always is. Keep it in the fairway, get some putts to go in and she’ll have a shot,” said Sanders.
The state tournament tees off from Fargo’s Edgewood Golf Course Monday at 9 a.m. Grube and Arel will tee off between 10:40 and 10:50 a.m.
Grand Forks Central's Sydney Hanson also will tee off Monday. The Knights' golfer ranked seventh in East Region scoring this season, averaging 83.0.