Although the Cardinals did trail Roseau by nine strokes (340-349) after 18 holes of play at state, LHS was happy to be in the position it was in. Luverne had never been in second place in state tournament play after the first day, and the coaching staff had a plan of attack for Day 2.
"Our goal at state always has been to do at least as well or better the second day as we did the first day," Nowatzki said.
The Cardinal players accomplished that goal in stunning fashion. Not only did they outscore the Rams (339-348) to gain a share of the state title, Luverne's 339 was a school-record tally for 18 holes of play in team competition.
"Our old school record came on the Prairie View Course in Worthington, and this (Izatys) was a much tougher course. I don't think it was as long as the St. Cloud Country Club (site of prior state tournaments), but it was much tighter, and the greens were very difficult. I'm very proud of the way our girls handled the course," Nowatzki offered.
Juniors Melissa Kopp and Cara Wynia and sophomore Gabe Van Dyk handled the course better than most on Thursday.
Kopp shot a three-over-par 39 on the front nine before finishing with a 43 to earn a share of seventh place in the individual standings with a 10-over-par 82.
Wynia, who Nowatzki said turned in a career round, shot a 39 and a 45 to earn a share of ninth place in the individual standings with a 12-over-par 84.
Van Dyk toured the course with a 13-over-par 85 by carding 40- and 45-stroke rounds. She was tied for 10th place individually after 18 holes of play.
Sophomore Kim Bennett rounded out LuverneÕs first-day team tally by shooting a 98 (47-51). She was tied for 23rd place individually.Junior Amber Top (50-55-103) and freshman Mindy Lysne (61-70-131) didn't contribute to the first-day team tally. They were tied for 26th and 36th place individually at the end of the day.
Roseau led Luverne 340-349 at the end of 18 holes of play, and Becker wasn't far behind with a 351. Staples-Motley-Pillager (365), Waconia (370), Crosby-Ironton (371), Caledonia-Spring Grove (374) and Windom (412) capped the field on Day 1.
Van Dyk and Kopp led the charge during LuverneÕs rally on the second day of play.
Van Dyk shot the field's second best score, a three-over-par 75, during the final two rounds. She shot a par-36 on the front nine and finished with a 39 on the back nine.
Kopp shaved four shots off her first-day total by shooting a six-over-par 78. After carding a 42 during the first nine holes, Kopp shot a par-36 on the back nine.
When the tournament was complete, Van Dyk and Kopp were involved in a three-way tie for seventh place in the individual standings with 160-stroke totals.
Bennett and Wynia rounded out Luverne's record-setting performance as a team on the second day.
Bennett trimmed six shots off her Day 1 total by shooting a 92 (44-48). Wynia contributed a 94 (45-49) to the team total.
Wynia finished tied for 32nd place (178 strokes) individually, and Bennett tied for 52nd place (190).
Top shot a 105 (52-53) and Lysne a 111 (58-53) during the second day. Top finished the tournament with a 208 total (tied for 74th place) and Lysne a 242 (85th place).
Finishing in front of Kopp and Van Dyk in the individual standings were S-M-P junior Mary Hasselberg, Rochester Lourdes freshman Stacie Smoot and Sauk Centre junior Jackie Beste, who share the individual title with 153-stroke efforts. Pequot Lakes junior Jackie Heslop was fourth with a 154, Waconia sophomore Brittany Willborg was fifth with a 155, and Roseau junior Sarah Butler was sixth with a 157.
Luverne and Roseau shared top honors in the team standings with 688s. Becker (706), S-M-P (724), Waconia (724), C-I (731), C-S (761) and Windom (804) capped the field.
All things considered, Nowatzki had nothing but much-deserved praise for his Cardinals at tournament's end.
"These kids just never gave up. John (Oksness, LHS boysÕ coach) and I always told them that they can never give up on the golf course because you never know whatÕs happening with your teammates in front and behind you. You have to stay focused and concentrate on every shot, even the shortest putts, because one stroke can be the difference between winning and losing. This was an unbelievable thing to be a part of. These kids, their parents and the school have nothing to feel but pride and honor for being able to win a share of the state championship."