As sophomores on Mounds View’s state golf tournament team two seasons ago, Kristen Cash and Lauren Ganske could rely on strong seniors to card many of the low scores.
Returning to the Class 3A tournament, which begins Tuesday at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids, required each member of a younger Mustangs’ team to chip in. Cash and Ganske, now seniors, provided unparalleled leadership. But a true team effort made Mounds View Section 5 champions.
The first day saw No. 2 player Anna Roesler and Ganske, the No. 4 player, struggle with the Links at Northfork course in Ramsey. Relief came from sophomore Sara Wendt. Typically the Mustangs’ No. 3 player, Wendt carded the second-lowest team score. Freshman Rachel Ganske also stepped up, finishing as Mounds View’s No. 4 golfer.
Depth allowed Mounds View to finish the first day just one stroke behind defending section champion Spring Lake Park.
“To see our No. 2 and No. 4 players struggle — I knew that wouldn’t happen two days in a row,” Mounds View coach Paul Bailey said.
His prediction proved correct. Roesler carded a 44 on the back nine, a performance Bailey called “instrumental” to the Mustangs’ comeback round. Lauren Ganske shaved nine strokes off her day one score.
Cash, an individual state qualifier as a junior, led the pack despite laboring with her irons. She made up for it with solid putting and will power.
“Her irons weren’t razor sharp but she found a way because she is an exceptionally talented and focused person,” Bailey said.
Bailey hailed Cash and Lauren Ganske as “the best two captains I’ve had in 25 years.” Their styles contrast yet combine to provide the Mustangs what they need.
“She’s one of the best golfers I’ve ever seen; she brings more skills so she’s the teacher and I’m the more vocal leader,” Ganske said. “I think, together, we bring the whole package.”
Motivated to improve and maintain momentum after going to state as a junior, Cash hit the driving range more often last summer. She is glad to be rejoined by teammates at state.
“It’s fun to have your team there,” said Cash, who will play golf at Gustavus Adolphus. “We’re so consistent across the board as a team. We gained a lot of experience last year and that showed this season. All the girls have played to the best of their abilities.”
Rounding out the Mustangs’ top six is sophomore Mia Wendt, Sara’s twin sister, a competitive player who “hates to get a bad number,” Bailey said.
Competitive and cohesive, Mounds View used strength in numbers to reach the state tournament.
“This team had a real drive to get there,” Lauren Ganske said. “As a sophomore, it was almost easier because we probably had more talent. This team really grinded through two days of sections and showed the determination we’ve shown all year.”