Perham golfers third at state
ONAMIA, Minn. - Perham coach Jeremy Kovash was pleased with his team's third-place finish at the Minnesota Class 1A boys state golf tournament, if only hypothetically.
"If you wake up the first day of the season and anyone tells you you'll finish third in the state tournament, you're tickled pink," he said.
Except that Yellowjackets senior Lee Cavanagh woke up Thursday morning in first place by two strokes and the team in second by three shots despite receiving a pair of 83s in the first round from North Dakota State recruit Joe Schornack and all-state pick Taylor Cavanagh.
Lee Cavanagh got out of bed earlier than planned and didn't eat much breakfast. The entire team pressed, Kovash said, and wound up red from the hot sun more than pink from tickling.
With a two-day score of 621, Rochester Lourdes won the team title - the ninth straight year a private school has done so. Jackson County Central came in second at 632, followed by Perham's 640. Eight shots separated second place from fifth.
"It's just tough because we had (only) one kid play well each day," Kovash said.
Wednesday, it was Lee Cavanagh, another future Bison, who shot a 2-under 70 to grab the midway lead. In Round 2, the distinction went to his younger brother, Taylor Cavanagh, who turned in a 1-under 71.
Unfortunately for the Perham junior, that came on the heels of an opening round he called "ridiculous" and his worst in three years; he started the day with seven balls in his bag and ended with one.
Things weren't that bad for big brother. But they weren't tight enough to claim the individual title, which went to Rochester Lourdes senior Andrew Alexander at 145.
Lee Cavanagh wound up tied for third at 150 with Battle Lake senior Justin Speer, the runner-up last year, who also finished at 150.
Lee Cavanagh shot 40 on the front nine. One of his few birdie chances came at No. 7, where he stuck his approach 2 feet above the hole - only to miss the ensuing putt. Teammate Blake Riewer did the same thing on the same hole only minutes before and Taylor Cavanagh lipped out a 3-foot birdie putt on No. 9 just minutes later.
It clearly wasn't going to be Perham's day.
Except for Taylor Cavanagh, who sank a 50-footer for eagle, the team also had issues with No. 18. Lee Cavanagh made a double-bogey six, Riewer seven and Shornack put a ball in the water.
"It happens," Lee Cavanagh signed through an interpreter. "That's the way it ends up."
In spite of a final-round 80 that left him shaking his head, Cavanagh's career ended on a high note: a second consecutive top-10 finish in a third state tournament appearance that helped Perham equal the best finish in school history.
And, whether good or bad, he narrowly missed out on a Cavanagh family tradition. Uncle Bob, cousin Mike and brother Taylor have each previously finished second at the tournament. All were on hand to cheer on Lee, even if he couldn't hear them because he was born deaf.
"He's a great kid," Kovash said. "He's battled through a lot in his life and he's chosen to use a disability as a strength rather than a weakness. ... Obviously, we would have wished for a little better finish today, but we're all proud of the way he competed out there."
Caledonia/Spring Grove claimed its sixth team title by topping the girls division at 686, while Minnehaha Academy sophomore Katie Detlefson won a second consecutive individual crown. With a final-round 70, she finished at 143 - a dozen shots better than the runner-up. The top 10 included Kristi Lucken of Fosston in eighth at 161 and Pelican Rapids senior Lindsey Nettestad, who was fifth at 158 to bag her best finish in four state tournaments.
Did she think her experience on the course might allow her to challenge Detlefson for the title?
"Um, kind of, but not really," Nettestad said. "I thought I could maybe catch up to second-place people."
For meet results, see Scoreboard on Page D2.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Terry Vandrovec at (701) 241-5548