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Twice a champ, golfer wants one more trophy before heading to U

Reese McCauley has her sights set on joining elite company.

The Simley senior will be looking to become only the seventh girls golfer in state history to become at least a three-time medalist when the Class 3A two-day tournament begins Tuesday at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids. The final round will conclude Wednesday.

"Every year is different," said McCauley, who received the Ms. Minnesota Golf award Sunday as the state's top senior girl. "The goal is to win it, but I just want to play my best."

The Class 2A and 1A tournaments will take place at the same time at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan (2A) and Pebble Creek in Becker.

Kate Smith of Detroit Lakes won five individual titles, Katie Detlefsen of Minnehaha Academy captured four and Sophia Yoemans of Red Wing, Samantha Sommers of St. Cloud Apollo, Liza LaBelle of Breck and Jody Rosenthal of Hopkins Eisenhower each won three. All were in consecutive years.

McCauley is looking for her third in a four-year span. Ranked No. 1 on the state by the Minnesota Golf Association and committed to the Gophers for college, she is the defending state champion and also was medalist in 2021.

"I would definitely be thrilled if I won it for a third time," McCauley said. "It would be cool to be part of the group. It would be amazing."

McCauley will be able to gauge how she is doing during the opening round. The Nos. 5-7 players in the MGA rankings — Orono junior Ava Hanneman, St. Michael-Albertville eighth-grader Abigail Labrador and Cretin-Derham Hall senior Lily Vincelli — are in her foursome.

"I'm playing in a really good group," McCauley said. "I'm excited and looking forward to it."

No. 2-ranked Maple Grove senior Amelia Morton and Minnetonka's tandem of freshman Kieley Hanson, ranked third, and sophomore Selena Wu, ranked fourth, are in groups shortly behind McCauley.

Morton's Crimson team is the defending team state champion and is favored to go back-to-back.

The Crimson boys team is also ranked No. 1, led by top-ranked senior Ryan Stendahl. He is also headed to the Gophers, and he was declared Mr. Minnesota Golf on Sunday.

Spring Lake Park senior Jake Birdwell, ranked second, is the defending state champion. His younger brother, freshman Chase, is No. 4, right behind Cretin-Derham Hall junior Sam Udovich.

There will be a new boys team champion crowned as 2023 winner Edina got beat by Benilde-St. Margaret's in the Section 6 tournament.

Others with repeat in mind

Two other individual medalists are also looking to go back-to-back. Staples-Motley junior Carter White, who is ranked fifth in the state, is the favorite in the Class 2A boys field, and Legacy Christian senior Raquelle Nelson, the Class 1A girls defending champion, makes the jump to Class 2A this year.

Totino-Grace, the Class 2A boys defending team champion, is led by No. 6-ranked senior Peyton Savageau.

Pequot Lakes is positioned to repeat as Class 2A girls champ, but Lake City has an excellent shot to dethrone the Patriots. Lake City, led by sixth-ranked Jordana Windhorst-Knudsen, won back-to-back titles in 2021 and 2022.

Lakeview is favored to successfully defend its Class 1A boys team championship.

Up-and-coming youngsters

The future of golf around the state looks bright. Here are five more boys and girls golfers who aren't seniors to keep an eye on in the state tournament:

Boys: Chanhassen juniors Lucas Arntsen and Andrew Ballou; Walker-Hackensack-Akeley junior Parker Brock; Cretin-Derham Hall junior Joe Honsa; Edina junior Torger Ohe.

Girls: Maple Grove freshman Payton Anderson; Pequot Lakes junior Genevieve Birkeland; Hawley junior Sophie Cook; Hill-Murray sophomore Emma Fitzmorris; and Owatonna sophomore Carmen Jirele.