BECKER, Minn.-As he came off his final hole on the final day of the Minnesota Class 1A state boys golf meet at Pebble Creek Golf Club, Mahnomen-Waubun senior Brady Liebl heard the congratulations from parents of the team. He didn't believe it.
It wasn't until Liebl saw the team photo of the Cougars getting slid into the first-place trophy by Minnesota State High School League officials that it hit him. For the first time in program history, Mahnomen-Waubun was the king of Class 1A boys golf in Minnesota.
"As soon as I saw that, it hit me," said Liebl, who led the Cougars with a 156, finishing tied for fifth overall. "The best way imaginable that I could think to go out, doing something that's never been done before in school history. It was overwhelming. Going into it never in a million years had I thought we'd come out as champions."
And the Cougars left no doubt, winning the state title by 18 strokes Wednesday, June 14. Mahnomen-Waubun finished with a 653 team total over the two-day meet, cruising over Lac qui Parle Valley, which finished with a 671. After back-to-back second-place finishes at the state meet, the wait is over for the Cougars.
"Last two years we thought we put awesome scores together, but we just didn't come away with a title," Mahnomen-Waubun coach Steve McMullen said. "It's kind of like the kids worked extra hard after that to get to that championship level."
Jaycee Clark finished in ninth with a 160, Lucas Clark-Burnette tied for 13th with a 163, and Jon Starkey rounded out the team score for Mahnomen-Waubun with a 174.
No number was going to convince the Cougars. They needed confirmation.
"I honestly didn't believe it until I saw fans giving a thumbs up on the 18th hole," McMullen said. "It was surreal."
Park Christian's Doeden ties for second
Emily Doeden may only be a sophomore, but she's a Class 1A state golf meet veteran. In her third trip to the state meet, Doeden wanted to finish in the top five.
She did better than that, finishing tied for second with a 160 over the two-day meet, five strokes off state champion Callie Wersal, of Springfield.
There were still nerves for Doeden, but it was hard to notice, as she shot the best round of her career on Day 1 with a 78, good enough to put her in a tie for third.
"The butterflies were definitely there, but just knowing the course a little bit better and that experience definitely helped me know where i wanted to be," Doeden said.
She came back with an 82 on Day 2 at Pebble Creek to finish tied with Heidi Guttormson, of Minneota, and Sophie Gray, of Legacy Christian Academy.
With two more golf seasons left in her high school career, Doeden is eyeing a state title.
"It'll definitely be a confidence booster and something I take moving forward," Doeden said. "It's something I'll definitely process and think about as I continue, but I think definitely just need to continue to work on my short game. That always helps."