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Cooney cruises to back-to-back state titles

RAPID CITY -- For a second-straight day, Andes Central/Dakota Christian's J.J. Cooney got off to a blistering start at the Class B boys state golf tournament in Rapid City.

Pierre's Katie Bartlett hits her tee shot on Hole No. 16 at Lakeview Golf Course Tuesday during the Class AA girls state golf tournament in Mitchell. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)
Pierre's Katie Bartlett hits her tee shot on Hole No. 16 at Lakeview Golf Course Tuesday during the Class AA girls state golf tournament in Mitchell. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)

RAPID CITY - For a second-straight day, Andes Central/Dakota Christian's J.J. Cooney got off to a blistering start at the Class B boys state golf tournament in Rapid City.

And for a second-straight year, Cooney is a state champion by a large margin.

"Winning the championships is special enough but I never would have thought I would win by more than 10," Cooney said. "It's hard to do it in the fashion that I was able to do it."

Cooney shot an even-par-72 on Tuesday to shoot 142 over the two-day tournament and finishing 2-under for the week. He won by 14 strokes, with White River's Justice Morrison finishing in second place at Hart Ranch Golf Course in Rapid City on Tuesday.

Compared to the first round, his final round was nearly a carbon copy. He shot par on the opening hole but then went birdie, birdie, bogey and birdie on holes 2 through 5. Aside from a double-bogey on No. 15, Cooney didn't have many problems on the day.

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"His round (Tuesday) was just as solid as (Monday)," said Cooney's coach and father, Tom Cooney. "The nice thing for him is that he's played in a bunch of big tournaments, so he was relaxed. He just went out and played a nice, easy round and it was just fun to watch."

In the last two years, Cooney has never trailed at the end of a day's play and he won by 10 shots in 2015 and 14 shots this year.

J.J. said he knew the first few holes were accessible and he said he knew the course was a driver-wedge-type course, meaning he could attack off the tee and stick his shots from there.

"It plays pretty easy for the first three holes and you can go out and hit your shots," he said. "You can really go at them."

Tom Cooney said his son's preparation has paid off. Cooney went and played golf in warmer climates during the winter and played in tournaments that prepared him for South Dakota's prep season.

"When you're in a pressure-packed situation, if you know you have prepared as well as you can, it gives you confidence and you know you're going to play well because you've been there and done it," Tom said. "I don't know how you explain him winning that big but it has to be his mental toughness. He's well prepared."

Cooney, who is set to play college golf at the University of Sioux Falls, said the ending is perfect for him. He's the first boys golfer to win back-to-back state championships in the three-class era, which began in 2002.

"I wouldn't have wanted to go out any other way," he said.

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Aberdeen Christian won the Class B team title, shooting 478, followed by Hamlin 30 strokes behind. Platte-Geddes was fifth, shooting 521 and Kimball/White Lake was seventh, shooting 540.

Bon Homme's Alec Johnson finished seventh in the individual competition, shooting a 160 for the two days. Riley Hoffman had the top tournament for the Black Panthers, shooting 166 and Gregory's J.J. Beck was tied for 12th for the two days, shooting 168.

Dolphins clip Cougars in Class B girls race

One stroke.

That was the difference between Deubrook Area winning its third-straight Class B girls golf championship and Burke/South Central getting over the hump and taking the crown from the Dolphins. Deubrook finished the two days with a score of 531 and Burke/South Central finished with 532 total strokes.

The Cougars had a six-shot lead heading into the final day at the Elks Golf Course in Rapid City. But the Dolphins' fourth golfer in the lineup, Marissa Johnson, was 19 shots better on Tuesday than she was on Monday, shooting an 85. That tied for the team lead for Deubrook Area with Caitlyn Christanson and Kayla Ovall's 88 helped the Dolphins to a score of 258 on Tuesday, 15 shots better than the first day's score.

Burke/South Central's scores were mostly in the same ballpark as Monday's, with Tressa Bull shooting a round of 87, Tressa Bull shooting an 88 and Hannah Karbo shooting a 90. Burke/South Central shot a 265, which was the best team score of the year but wasn't enough in the end.

Mount Vernon/Plankinton took fourth place as a team, with a score of 573. Howard also placed, finishing in sixth place with a two-day score of 582. The Titans were led by Kaylin Bohr, who finished tied for 13th with a two-day score of 180. Jordan Glanzer had Howard's top finish, shooting 178 and tying for 10th place as an individual.

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In the individual competition, Scotland's Maggie Fiscel shot a round of 85, finishing the two days with a score of 171, tying for third place. Indahl finished tied for fifth place with a round of 88 and a score of 173.

Related Topics: MOUNT VERNONGOLF
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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