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ND CLASS A GIRLS GOLF: Red River, Bixby lead at halfway point

Grand Forks Red River hasn't won a girls golf meet this spring. Ashley Bixby has shared top scores, but she's yet to win an outright individual championship.

Fargo North assistant coach Ann Williams
Fargo North assistant coach Ann Williams encourages golfers Addie Long, left, of Fargo North and Fargo Davies' Kathleen Marsh as they measure yardage to the pin during their round Monday in the ND State Class A Girls Golf tournament at the Grand Forks Country Club. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks Red River hasn't won a girls golf meet this spring. Ashley Bixby has shared top scores, but she's yet to win an outright individual championship.

But, after the Monday's opening round of the North Dakota Class A girls high school golf meet, the Roughriders and the West Fargo senior both are sitting on top.

Red River holds a narrow lead going into today's final round at Grand Forks Country Club. The Roughriders shot a 351. Fargo North and defending state champion Fargo Davies are two strokes back at 353. Also shooting sub-360 scores were Bismarck Century (357) and West Fargo (358).

Bixby shot a 74, two strokes better of Kathleen Marsh of Fargo Davies and Annie Nelson of Bismarck Century.

"It just shows that anything can happen at tournament time," Red River coach Ann Arnason said.

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"We're only halfway there (to the finish). We can't get too excited. But this is what we've been shooting for all year -- four good scores with that low score right around 80."

Casey DeBeltz paces the Roughriders. Her 80 is tied for fifth place. The senior, the No. 1 golfer for the Riders all season, had a previous best round of 83 this season. Rounding out Red River's four scorers were Morgan Hetletved (87), Alexis Caoili (92) and Hilary Whalen (92). The 351 matched Red River's low round of the season.

"Casey's always been leading us," Arnason said. "Today she got herself in a zone. It's all coming together for her at the right time. It's great to see. She's worked hard."

Bixby, who finished third in the East Region in average (80.4), matched her low round of the season to take her two-stroke lead.

"I knew I could shoot like this," Bixby said. "But lately my game has been in a bit of a funk. I haven't played as well as I feel I'm capable. But it just felt right today."

Bixby had a 40 on the front nine, but closed strong with a 34. She had four birdies -- one on the front nine and three, including the 17th and 18 holes, on the final nine.

"That 40 gave me a little motivation," Bixby said. "There are a lot of good players. A 40 wasn't going to cut it. I was a little more focused after that."

Bixby, who placed seventh at state last season, will be vying for a title against an experienced field.

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Other top-eight finishers from a year ago include Nelson (tied for eighth last season), Kathleen Marsh (third last season), Dickinson's Rachel Jahner (fourth at 79, second last season), Davies' Jennifer Marsh (tied for fifth at 80, sixth last season) and Jamestown's Sierra Bennion (tied for fifth at 80, tied for fourth last season).

Dickinson's Rachel Jahner
Dickinson's Rachel Jahner tees off #1 at the Grand Forks Country Club Monday on the opening day of the ND Girls Class A state golf tournament. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

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