WATERTOWN-Mitchell High School entered the final round of the Class AA girls state golf tournament on Tuesday in a position to bring home a trophy.
The Kernels were tied for sixth after the first round and after posting its best score of the season in the second round (351) at Cattail Crossing Golf Course, they managed to remain tied for sixth-along with Watertown-to capture its first state plaque since 2003.
Mitchell lowered its score by eight strokes in the second round, finishing with a total of 710. Pierre improved by 21 strokes to place fifth and 19 lower than the Kernels for the tournament. Sioux Falls O'Gorman shot a 614 to best second-place Aberdeen Central and Yankton by 55 strokes for its seventh state title in nine years.
"After I found out the top-six get that plaque and get to bring something home, it was something more for us to work for," MHS head coach Keri Munsen said. "They really got it done today and I couldn't be more proud as a coach. It almost makes you emotional."
As O'Gorman pulled away from the field in the team standings, Mitchell's Masy Mock chased a pair of Knights in pursuit of an individual state title. Mock was tied for third entering the day and improved by two strokes to shoot a 75 on Tuesday for a two-day total of 152.
The sophomore entered the clubhouse in third, trailing by three strokes, but Shannon McCormick (149) and Carly Kunkel (150) maintained pace to finish first and second, respectively.
Mock made ground by shooting for par and a birdie on the first two holes, while also shooting even on the first two holes of the back nine after bogeying all four holes in the first round. Her third-place finish was the highest by a Kernel since Kristin Sabers took third in 2012.
"I think yesterday I was more nervous than today," Mock said. "I was nervous to start those holes and I didn't start the greatest yesterday."
Mock wasn't the only Kernel that lowered her score, however, as Allison Meyerink and Ella Flippin both improved in the final round. Meyerink's 91 was five strokes lower than her first-round mark to finish tied for 44th, while Flippin improved by 12 strokes to card a 91.
Kailee Henglefelt shot a 94 and totaled a two-round score of 186 to end the tournament tied for 41st. Quinn Dannenbring duplicated the 94 she posted in the first round and finished tied for 46th.
"We talked about everybody shaving five strokes off their game," Munsen said. "Ella took it to another level and she stuck with it. Allison Meyerink did the same thing and that's one of her best tournament rounds. It was a great feeling as a coach."