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BOYS GOLF: Staples-Motley, Pequot’s Espeseth qualify for state

ST. CLOUD — The Staples-Motley Cardinals wrapped up the Section 6-2A team championship and Levi Espeseth of Pequot Lakes qualified for state as an individual in the final round of the section tournament Monday at Territory Golf Club.

S-M was paced by overall medalist Nick Forsberg, who carded a 74 Monday to finish with a 2-day total of 146. Teammate Michael Strain finished second overall with a 150 total following a 72 Monday.

Zach Israelson’s 158 and Tanner Roberts’ 161 capped the Cardinals’ low four scores. Rounding out S-M’s lineup was Trent Hagenson 166 and Mitch Hagenson (176).

The Cardinals, making their first state trip since 2003 when they were fourth and 2004 when they tied for fifth in 2-class formats, finished with 615 strokes to runner-up St. Cloud Cathedral’s 624.

“It was a great performance over two days under a lot of pressure in terms of Cathedral being the numerous-time defending champion,” S-M coach Glen Hasselberg said. “We split during the year in the head-to-head competition we had. We knew it was going to be a battle and that’s exactly what it came down to be.

“We got a great performance from all our players but Nick and Michael, to come through with 74 and 72 (Monday), they came up big. It’s not that our other scores were bad, it’s that that’s what you need to have in a team game. You need someone to step up and those two guys did.”

Espeseth shot 78 Monday following a 77 in the first round to qualify for his first trip to state. He’s Pequot’s first state qualifier since Michael Eck two years ago and Drake Beyer three years ago.

“He was very steady with the short game,” Pequot coach Steve Stoxen said of Espeseth. “He was hitting his irons well. When he was not in good position off the tee he played smart. He stayed away from the big numbers.

“For a senior he really started to come around at the right time. He’s always been capable of good numbers. A few times he struggled with a big number on one hole that took him out of it. He was real steady the last three weeks.”

Team scores: 1-Staples-Motley 308-307-615, 2-St. Cloud Cathedral 314-310-624, 3-Rocori 334-331-665, 4-Melrose 341-326-667

Overall medalist: Nick Forsberg (SM) 146

Staples-Motley results: Nick Forsberg 72-74-146, Zach Israelson 78-80-158, Michael Strain 78-72-150, Tanner Roberts 80-81-161, Mitch Hagenson 87-89-176, Trent Hagenson 83-83-166

Pequot Lakes results: Levi Espeseth 77-78-155, Alex Goerges 79-86-165

Little Falls results: Tom Smith 84-89-173, Hunter Hanowski 84-81-165

Pierz results: Dustin Herold 82-83-165 

Next: Staples-Motley team, Levi Espeseth of Pequot Lakes in Class 2A state tournament June 15-16 at the Ridges at Sand Creek, Jordan.