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State Golf: Heggerston, Israelson back to defend titles

State Golf What: Class 2A state tournament Who: Pequot Lakes girls team, Staples-Motley's Andrew Israelson Little Falls' Kyler Erdman, Pierz's Jessica Hawks Where: Ridges at Sand Creek, Jordan When: Tuesday-Wednesday Maggie Heggerston and Andrew ...

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State Golf

What: Class 2A state tournament

Who: Pequot Lakes girls team, Staples-Motley's Andrew Israelson Little Falls' Kyler Erdman, Pierz's Jessica Hawks

Where: Ridges at Sand Creek, Jordan

When: Tuesday-Wednesday

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Maggie Heggerston and Andrew Israelson enter this year's state golf tournament in similar situations, but have very different game plans.

Staples-Motley's Israelson is Class 2A co-defending state champion for the boys. Heggerston of Pequot Lakes is the co-defending state champion for the Class 2A girls. Both have multiple state trips to their credit.

But when the two tee off in the two-day tournament that begins Tuesday at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan, they will attack the course in different ways.

Last season, Israelson shot rounds of 71-73 for his 144. As a freshman, during a rain-shortened 2013 state tournament, he shot 71 and 38 to help the Cardinals to the state team title.

Israelson carded rounds of 73-79 for a 152 during his first state tournament trip as an eighth-grader.

"I'm not nervous in the head, it's more after that first tee shot everything is going to be alright," Israelson said. "That first tee shot, once you get that one off and no matter where it goes, as long as it's in play, you're ready to go. That's how I feel about being nervous.

"This state tournament is definitely a little different being a two-time state champion, both as part of a team and an individual. It feels a little different, but also the same. I've been there before three times. I'm still playing the same course and the same time of the year. I know how it's going to be."

The junior said his long irons are solid. His driver and putter are coming around and he'll spend the majority of his practice time on his wedge play.

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"This year, I've thought a little bit more, especially coming out of the section tournament and how I played there, I'm going to attack as much as possible and put myself in good situations.

"Also my plan is to not attack the spots I can't. I'm going to control myself on what shots I'm going to hit. I'll play the safe shot and aim for the middle of the green or a spot where I know I can get up and down."

Israelson believes, with the level of talent in this year's tournament, he'll have to shoot under par to repeat as state champion. He didn't have a specific number in mind, just under par.

Heggerston doesn't plan on changing anything about her approach to attacking the course.

"I'm just going to go with what has worked in the past," Heggerston said. "I know the course so well so I just want to play safe and play like I have done in the past. What has been successful before is what I want to do now."

As a junior, Heggerston shot 73-70 to tie Kate Smith of Detroit Lakes with a 143. That score helped the Patriots to second place in the team tournament.

Two years ago, Heggerston finished fifth individually with a 27-hole score of 113 and Pequot Lakes placed third.

The senior hopes that downward trend continues.

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"Yes, this time it does feel different," Heggerston said. "In my head I feel I need to go out and win it again. I just have this feeling that I need to prove it and win it again, which is not as easy as it seems.

"I haven't really thought about the tournament much yet. I know I'll be nervous, but I'm excited to go play in my last state tournament. Once I get on that first tee, I'll be nervous. That's the most nervous I've been - that first tee at the state tournament."

Heggerston said the course dictates the way she plays it. She called the course a target-golf type of course with small landing areas. There are spots where she would like to use her prodigious power to her advantage, though.

"My game last week was not good," Heggerston said. "I've been working with Chris Foley (PGA master professional) and right now my swing is the best it's been all season. I've been working on my driver and my putting has been pretty good all season. While the course isn't long, every par 5 is pretty wide and fairly long so I do use my driver at least four or five times out on that course. Those are really good birdie opportunities. I would like to have my driver going good because those par 5s are good scoring holes."

Nobody is rooting for Heggerston more than her five Pequot teammates, including Alex Stone, who beat her elder teammate for the Section 7-2A title two weeks ago. This is Stone's third state trip. She tied for 29th last year with a 171. Junior Amanda Nies is making her fourth state trip. She posted a two-day 162 for 19th place last year. Sam Olmscheid is making her fourth trip. She tied for 34th last season. Megan Snyder is also a four-time state participant. As a sophomore two years ago, Snyder tied for 36th with Stone with 27-hole 131s. This will be Bella Abear's second state trip.

"We're healed and we a full team so that's good," said Pequot head coach Jon Dale. "I think the girls feel pretty confident. We're playing in the second group of teams because of our 350 at sections, but that could mean less pressure. All of them are feeling confident as they've played the course so many times during state as well as in the Jordan Invite."

Dale believes Pequot has a good chance to win the tournament, but teams like Red Wing, which placed third last year, is the favorite. The three-time defending state champion Detroit Lakes Lakers are back as is Minnewaska, which placed fourth.

Breck returns and placed eighth last season. Albert Lea, Blake and St. Cloud Cathedral round out the team tournament.

"Red Wing has been doing well all year long and you can never count out DL," said Dale. "And Minnewaska is a really good sleeper and has been sneaking up. I don't know anything about Breck, but it's going to take us playing our best golf to have a chance of winning this."

Pierz's Jessica Hawks is also returning for her second state tournament. The senior tied Olmscheid and two others for 34th. She fired rounds of 85-87 last year.

Senior Kyler Erdman of Little Falls is making his first state appearance.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .

Class 1A State Golf

Pillager's Jackson breaks through to state

What: Class 1A state tournament

Who: Pillager's Logan Jackson

Where: Pebble Creek Golf Club, Becker

When: Tuesday-Wednesday

With the pressure of advancing to state off his back, Logan Jackson said he's not nervous about teeing off in his first Class 1A state tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker.

Jackson, who just missed advancing to state the past three seasons by one spot, said his goal is to have fun and see if he can post a good score.

"I feel like the nervousness is gone because I'm there now," Jackson said. "I can just go out there and have fun. The challenge has been getting there. I can go out and enjoy it. If I'm in contention after Day One, I'll be nervous going into Day Two. But it's my first time being there so I'll just go out and do my best."

The Pillager Huskies senior played the course twice over the weekend and said he hopes to score early as he thought the front nine fit his game better than the back nine.

"The course sets up pretty well and it's more of a precision course," said Jackson. "I'll be hitting a lot of irons and hybrids. I'll hit a couple of drivers down there, which I'm OK with. I can hit mid irons into the green, which is what I really like. The greens were very receptive if you can hit a high trajectory shot.

"Putting was the biggest challenge. It looked like there was a lot of break in the greens. It was a toss up on how you wanted to putt the greens."

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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