Grand Forks Red River content flying under the radar as state meet begins Monday
Fargo Davies and Bismarck Century are expected to compete for the state crown but Red River has shown flashes of challenging the hierarchy.
GRAND FORKS — The North Dakota Class A girls golf meet begins Monday at the Jamestown Country Club.
The meet favorites will be defending state champion Fargo Davies and its defending state medalist Lexi Bartley or Bismarck Century and its three-time state medalist Hannah Herbel (2018-20).
Lurking not far back but avoiding the favorite label is Grand Forks Red River, and that's just fine with Roughriders coach Eric Sanders.
"That's the beautiful thing," Sanders said.
Red River holds the state's fourth-best average this season and has won four different Eastern Dakota Conference meets over Davies.
Junior Jaya Grube and sophomore Sophie Brakke were each all-EDC based on Top 10 performances during the season. Also, freshman Ella Speidel would've had the sixth-best average and been all-EDC but she didn't qualify for enough meets as she missed the first three of the season for a family trip to Alaska.
The Riders are shooting scores that in a normal year might make Red River more of the favorite.
Two weeks ago, Red River shot a 323 team score at the Fargo Country Club. Sanders said it was the lowest EDC team score at the Fargo Country Club in 12 years.
"The only team to beat us finished 20 minutes later," Sanders said of Fargo Davies. "If you would've told me you'd shoot a 323 and not win, I would have said 'What in the world?'"
Red River last won a state team championship in 2017, led by state medalist Morgan Hetletved.
That 2017 team shot a 342 at Wahpeton during the season. This year, Red River shot a 336 and a 330 at Wahpeton. After shooting a 330, Davies beat the Riders by one stroke.
The key to success this season for the Riders, Sanders said, is the capability to have a golfer shoot really low but also have the depth to round out the final team score.
All six of Red River's top golfers have had a Top 10 finish in a meet this season. The Riders had four all-region finishes at Wahpeton last week. The fifth golfer also finished in 12th.
"It's easier to be confident when you're doing it with and for your team," Sanders said. "It isn't just up to four kids. It makes you want to compete for each other. All of the pressure in the world isn't on me."
Red River's top six golfers include Grube, Brakke, Speidel, Taylor Piepkorn, Ella McMullin and Lauren Soholt. A seventh golfer, Olivia Whitesock, also qualified to compete as an individual at state.