Area golfers end season at state

Belle Fourche’s Payson Birkeland follows a putt attempt Tuesday at the state A girls’ golf tournament in Aberdeen. She topped the field by three strokes and won her second straight title. Photo courtesy of SD Public Broadcasting

ABERDEEN — Golfers from Spearfish, Lead-Deadwood, Belle Fourche, Sturgis, and Newell ended their golf seasons Tuesday at state tournaments. 

Belle Fourche’s Payson Birkeland captured her second consecutive state A girls’ golf tournament Tuesday in Aberdeen.

Birkeland fired a 36-hole 153 score at the Lee Park course to top the field by three shots. She is the first Broncs’ player since Sarah Smith in 1992 and 1993 to win multiple state titles.

Sioux Falls Christian’s Lauren Tims placed second at 156. 

Birkeland led Timms by one shot with four holes left Tuesday. A par on number 15 to go with Tims’ bogey extended Birkeland’s edge to two strokes.

Play on the 16th hole ended with Birkeland sinking a 10-foot par putt. Her advantage stayed at two shots as Tims also recorded a par.

Birkeland scored a five on number 17; Tims scored a six as Birkeland’s lead grew to three shots. Both carded 4s on the 18th hole to end the tournament.

Temperatures approaching 90 degrees posed the biggest challenge on Tuesday, Birkeland said. She said wind also tested the players on Monday.

“It’s hard to compare the two because there are such different situations,” Birkeland said. “I will say this one, definitely, was earned. I worked really hard for this and gave every ounce of energy I had this year.”

Birkeland hit many golf balls into a net at the Belle Fourche County Club over the winter. 

She also did so this spring when unable to play on the course.

Following Monday’s first day, Birkeland and Sisseton’s Kelsey Heath were tied for the top spot. 

Birkeland recalled being cool, calm, and collected because of her going through this experience last season.

Avery Middleton of Belle Fourche fired a 196 for the tournament. Teammates Rylee Young (214), Juliann Lange (221), and Caitlin Ringling (225) followed. 

Belle Fourche placed ninth in the Class A team standings at 781.

“They hung in there, and they fought it out,” Belle Fourche head coach Don Hazledine said. “They did a good job given the circumstances.

“I was very pleased with our performance given the way our season played out,” Hazledine said. 

Adverse weather cancelled a number of events, and Hazledine said that makes a difference in players’ games.

Madi Rystrom paced the Lead-Deadwood effort by carding a two-day 210. Raygan Mattson finished with a 258. 

West Central fired a 703 to earn the Class A girls’ team title. Sisseton placed second at 717.

Spearfish and Sturgis competed in the state AA tournament, played at Watertown’s Cattail Crossing Course. Spearfish finished 15th in the AA girls’ team standings at 796. Sturgis placed 16th at 955.

Lyric Williams paced the Spearfish effort by firing a 190. Jenna Geist (198), Rachel Jensen (200), and Sydney Gusso (208) also represented the Spartans. 

“It was kind of a hard and rough start, and we just couldn’t get any momentum,” Spearfish head coach Eric Ligtenberg said in describing Tuesday’s play.

Ligtenberg said Spartan golfers played some good holes but hit into sand traps and trees on other holes. He added Gusso’s 94 on Monday was a personal best.

Ainsley Sabers carded a 174 to pace Sturgis. Teammates Kennedy Bush (244), LeAnne DeRouchey (247), and Lilly Forbes (290) followed.

“I thought the girls competed hard today,” Sturgis head coach Steve Keszler said. He added the Scoopers, for the most part, improved from Monday to Tuesday.

Newell shot a 621 to earn sixth place in the Class B girls’ team division. Yankton’s Fox Run course hosted this event. 

Abbie Nelson finished 17th in the individual standings. She carded a 194. 

Newell also received a 210 from Kassidy Weeldreyer, a 217 from Katie McTaggart, and a 239 from Kelsi Clements.

A 293 team score enabled Newell to finish 10th in the B boys’ division team race. 

Huttson Weeldreyer recorded a 180 for the Irrigators. Teammates Chase VanDerBoom (182), John Jackson (200), and Hunter Wetz (207) followed.

“They were able to overcome some adversity throughout the round,” Newell head coach Mike Phelps said in describing the girls’ team members. 

He added that wind and warm weather were some of the adverse.

Nelson earned Phelps’ praise for her efforts. 

Phelps said the Irrigator boys’ team started slowly on Monday but shot very well the next day.

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