VanArragon Is Ms. Minnesota Golf; Rohlwing Is Mr. Golf
June 11, 2023 | 4 min.
By Michael R Fermoyle
INDEPENDENCE -- The 2022 MGA Player of the Year Awards had an All in the Family kind of feel to them. Caleb VanArragon, a former MGA Junior Player of the Year (2018), earned Player of the Year, and his younger sister Kathryn was the Junior Girls Player of the Year.
On Sunday night, to no one's surprise, Kathryn was named Ms. Minnesota Golf for 2023. The award is given each year to the top female high school senior in the state, and VanArragon was the obvious choice. A two-time state Class AAA champion, she made it through this spring with only two losses duriing the regular season, and in the Section 5AAA tournament at The Links at Northfork, the Blaine senior shot 66-68--144 and won medalist honors by 15 strokes.
The Mr. Minnesota Golf Award went to Joey Rohlwing of Eastview. He set school record with his season-long scoring average of 71 strokes per round, and in the 17 tournaments he played was 5 under par overall.
"He broke all of our old records," Eastview coach Mark Wanous said, "and by a lot."
Rohlwing, a University of South Dakota recruit, qualified for the state tournament with an exclamation point, putting together a personal-best 36-hole total of 135 in the Section 3AAA tournament at Bunker Hills. Rohlwing started off with a 5-under 67 and led by six at that point. The 68 that he added was the low score for the second round, and it gave him an 11-stroke victory.
In the cases of both VanArragon and Rohlwing, there was a kind of family theme to the development -- and the achievements -- of the winners.
VanArragon took up golf when she was 3 years old. She broke 80 in the summer after she finished sixth grade, she's pretty sure, and that same summer, she broke 70 for the first time. Less than a year later, she won the state Class AAA high school championship for the first time -- as a seventh-grader.
Over the years, she's played a lot of golf with her brother, and that has undoubtedly contributed to her success.
"Playing with him made the game more fun," she said, "and it gave me a higher standard. It's the same thing when I play with Reese and with Bella (the McCauley sisters, both of whom have also won state high school championships). I've played a lot of golf with them, especially Reese. Playing with good players just makes you better."
VanArragon, who signed with St. Thomas, and Reese McCauley, who's a junior playing for Simley (even though she's home-schooled), are the two favorites to win the AAA girls title in this year's state tournament Tuesday and Wednesday. The Class AAA boys and girls portions of the state tournament will be played at Bunker Hills.
(Caleb VanArragon, by the way, shattered just about all the scoring records for the golf team during his four years at Valparaiso University, and he graduated suma cum laude this spring with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a double major in biology and statistics.)
Rohlwing started playing golf even earlier than Kathryn VanArragon, when he was about 1 year old. Phil Mickelson did the same thing, and there are other similarities in the Rohlwing and Mickelson stories.
Mickelson is a right-hander who plays golf left-handed because he wanted to face his father when he was young and they were hitting practice balls at the driving range. His father played right-handed; so Phil could face him by hitting shots left-handed. Rohlwing writes right-handed, and does some other things right-handed, as well. But he, too, wanted to face his father -- "He's about a 5 handicap, Rohlwing says of his dad -- when they were hitting practice balls in the early years.
"Except that we didn't do it at the range," Joey pointed out. "We were in our back yard."
Over the years, however, his main golfing companions have been his teammates at Eastview.
"We've got five seniors on the team this year," he said, "and we've been together a long time."
At last year's state tournament, Rohlwing tied for 14th (74-75--149) and the Eastview team tied for fifth.
He's hoping for improvements on both of those finishes, and his victory at Bunker Hills in the section tournament gives him reason for optimism. As for the team competition, Edina is the defending champion, and the Hornets put up some eye-popping numbers in the Section 6AAA tournament at Braemar. Torger Owe shot a 36-hole score of 13-under 131, and Jimmy Abdo was only one behind at 132. That's a combined 25 under from the top two guys. But Eastview is in the state tournament for the third consecutive year, having won 3AAA by five shots, and they have beaten the Hornets twice in regular-season tournaments this year.
"So we know we can compete with them, if we play well," Rohlwing said. "It should be fun."
Ms. Minnesota Golf Finalists
Rose Baynes, Eden Prairie
Hannah Boraas, Alexandria
Kate Burke, Edina
Avery O'Donnell, Elk River
Izzy Olson, Brainerd
Nicole Reineke, Chaska
Kathryn VanArragon, Blaine
Victoria Woytassek, Jordan
Mr. Minnesota Golf Finalists
Josh Easterly, Chaskja
Kagan Kollar, Maple Grove
Joey Rohlwing, Eastview
Zach Rouleau, Farmington
Kyler Schwamb, Farmington
Drew Teeter, Albert Lea
Max Wilson, Roseau
Joseph Wisocki, Willmar