Prep Golf Preview

As winter begins to wind down, more than 4,400 high school golfers from over 500 golf teams across the state of Minnesota will soon dust off their clubs to prepare for the 2023 season.

April 30, 2023 | 4 min.
By Nick Hunter

Edina boys cruised to the program’s ninth team title at Bunker Hills Golf Club last June. The Hornets should contend for the top spot in Class AAA once again despite losing individual co-medalist Jack Wetzel (University of Minnesota) and Charlie Nasby (University of St. Thomas), who finished tied for 14th last season.

Edina will get a boost from sophomore Torger Ohe, a top-20 finisher last year, as well as junior Ben Sanderson and senior Owen Nielson, who last season finished 29th and 33rd, respectively.

Maple Grove, led by junior Ryan Stendahl, looks to return to the state tournament this summer after falling during the section final in 2022. Stendahl placed fifth individually last season but will need help from fellow junior Gavin Grahek and senior Kagan Kollar if the Crimson want to keep pace with the top teams in Class AAA.

Junior Bennett Olsen, senior Braeden Sladek and sophomore Carver Larson will lead Alexandria in 2023, hoping for a trip back to Bunker Hills for a 22nd state tournament appearance, as the Cardinals currently sit tied for third most appearances in state history.  

Look for Spring Lake Park junior Jake Birdwell to contend individually, as well a pair of Farmington seniors in Kyler Schwamb and Zach Rouleau. 

Sophomore transfer Sam Udovich will make an immediate impact for Cretin-Derham Hall in 2023, as the former St. Croix Lutheran golfer claimed the Class AA individual title last year. Udovich now complements fellow sophomore Joe Honsa and junior Miles Bollinger to propel CDH to the top of the Suburban East Conference.

Losing two of its top three finishers in 2022 will present a challenge for the Alexandria girls in Class AAA, while the girls from Maple Grove chase a third state tournament berth and first team title in school history, returning all six starters from last year.

Juniors Amelia Morton and McKenna Hogan, senior Julia Contreras and eighth-grader Payton Anderson will each look to build on top-30 finishes for Maple Grove at the season finale last June.    

Owner of a state-record 12 team titles in program history, the Edina girls hope to bounce back from a fifth-place finish last season, losing just one player from its tournament roster.
Blaine senior and University of St. Thomas commit Kathryn VanArragon came out firing with an opening-round 65 last season on her home course at Bunker Hills, going on to claim her second Class AAA individual title. 

Entering the season as the state’s top player, VanArragon is in search of a third title in June, which would make her the seventh player in state history with at least three individual wins.
VanArragon will have to fend off 2021 individual medalist Reese McCauley, who placed third in 2022, four shots behind VanArragon, as well as Alexandria senior Hannah Boraas, who placed 10th.

Pine Island-Zumbrota-Mazeppa claimed the school’s first team title in 2022, but the Wildcats graduated their top player in Anders Larson. A trio of returners, spearheaded by seniors Joseph and Michael Scripture, as well as junior Cameron Bruns, should provide enough depth to earn Pine Island a trip to its third state tournament.  

Holy Family returns five players in 2023 and will make another push for the school’s first state tournament win since back-to-back team titles in 2018-19. 

Senior Nate Appelhof and junior Peyton Savageau hope to lift Totino-Grace into contention in early summer at Ridges at Sand Creek, as the Eagles return all six golfers from the 2022 squad.

Southwest Christian’s Jacob Ferrin finished two shots behind Udovich in Class AA in 2022 and will contend for individual medalist honors again this spring. He will be challenged by seniors Luke Ashbrook, Kimball, and Karson Patten, Cloquet, who placed fifth and tied-for-sixth, respectively, at state last year.

The Lake City girls ran away with the Class AA team title in 2022, defeating Fergus Falls by 39 strokes, one of the largest margins of victory in recent history. 

All six state tournament starters return for the Tigers in 2023, including juniors Ella Matzke, who placed second at the season finale, and Jordana Windhorst-Knudsen, who finished tied for 11th.

Also returning all six tournament players is Pequot Lakes, who finished third last season. Look for Providence Academy and Jordan to join the conversation come tourney time in June.
Park Rapids junior Anna Eckman finished third at the state tournament and will again contend in 2023 along with Jordan senior and Minnesota State University-Mankato commit Victoria Woytassek, who finished six shots back last year.

The Fertile-Beltrami boys earned a 30-stroke victory in Class A in 2022, but this season the Falcons will be without 2021 individual medalist Rylin Petry. Even so, senior Ethan Finseth and junior Masen Nowacki should provide enough fire power to return Fertile-Beltrami back to Pebble Creek Golf Club in June, searching for a third straight team title.

New Life Academy senior Cole Witherow earned medalist honors in 2022 and will be the player to beat this season. He will be chased by Martin County West junior Hunter Schmidt and Fillmore Central senior Jake Fishbaugher.

This year’s Class A state tournament on the girls’ side could mirror last year’s battle between Legacy Christian Academy and Lac Qui Parle Valley, as both teams are down just one starter from a year ago.

Emily Brandt capped off her sophomore season with individual medalist honors, helping the Lions to their fourth team title in nine seasons.

The duo of Molly Halvorson and Isabella Jacobs posted a pair of top-10 finishes at the 2022 championship, and the two will hope to carry Lac Qui Parle Valley to a third team title in four years.

Kyler Schwamb helped guide Farmington to its third state tournament appearance in school history in 2021, where he tied for 11th. He returned as an individual last season and notched a 10th-place finish.

This season marks the fifth year of varsity golf for Alexandria’s Braeden Sladek, who posted back-to-back 12th-place finishes his seventh- and eighth-grade seasons. He finished tied for 15th at the Class AAA championship in 2021 and looks to improve on a 19th-place finish a year ago. 

Senior Justin Luan, a three-year letter-winner at East Ridge High School, is coming off a 29th-place finish at Bunker Hills in 2022. As an eighth-grader in 2019, Luan tied for 35th before a 44th-place finish to cap off his sophomore campaign.

Karson Patten finished his eighth-grade season tying for 29th in 2019. In 2021, he helped Cloquet win its first Class AA team title (tying for 14th at the Ridges at Sand Creek). Behind a final-round 72 last June, Patten posted a sixth-place finish to close out his junior season.  

As a junior, Southwest Christian’s Jacob Ferrin made his first appearance at the Class AA state championship in 2022, posting one of just six scores below par for the tournament, to finish runner-up behind Sam Udovich.

Following a fourth-place finish during his sophomore season at New Life Academy, Cole Witherow joined the Eagles in their first state tournament appearance in program history in 2022. Witherow carded back-to-back rounds of 1-over 73 last June to earn medalist honors by one stroke.

Winning her second Class AAA individual title in 2022, Blaine’s Kathryn VanArragon leads the list of this year’s Ms. Golf Minnesota hopefuls. The University of St. Thomas commit entered the record books by winning her first title as a seventh-grader in 2018. VanArragon posted a 7-under 65 to open the championship last season, earning a two-stroke victory.

Along with eight top-five finishes last year, Eden Prairie’s Rose Baynes claimed three wins during her junior season, including the Lake Conference Championship at Baker National Golf Course. Baynes placed fourth at the Section 2AAA Championship to qualify for her second consecutive Class AAA state tournament, finishing 35th.

Alexandria’s Hannah Boraas, another four-year letter-winner with four Class AAA state tourney appearances, helped the Cardinals to a second-consecutive team title in 2022. Thanks to a final-round 74 at Bunker Hills last June, Boraas notched her best finish at the event, placing 10th.

Grace Petzold made her first appearance as an individual for Providence Academy as a seventh-grader in 2018 and improved on her performance during her eighth-grade season, finishing tied for 65th. Petzold earned a third-place finish in 2021, helping the Lions to a runner-up finish before she claimed a ninth-place finish last season at Ridges at Sand Creek.

Jordan senior and Minnesota State University commit Victoria Woytassek has a pair of Class AA state tournament appearances to her credit—an 11th-place finish to conclude her junior season for the Jaguars, before her fourth-place finish at the season finale a year ago.

Courtney Hershberger made her first appearance at the Class A state championship as an eighth-grader in 2019 for Fillmore Central and followed it with a top-22 finish in 2021. Improving by nine shots during the final round of the tournament last season at Pebble Creek, Hershberger tallied a third-place finish to lead the Falcons. 

Nick Hunter

Nick Hunter got his start covering sports for the Mankato Free Press while attending Minnesota State University, Mankato. 

He then contributed to several online outlets, including Bleacher Report, prior to turning his focus to golf.

Hunter enters his 11th season covering golf in Minnesota as news editor for the MGA website. He resides in New Prague with his wife and two sons.

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