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There was only a one week difference between the Class 6B pre-regional boys and girls golf tournaments and Hart Ranch and the actual regional tournament, and other than the weather, not much changed in that week.

Josie Rush of Philip and Braydon Peterson of Lemmon followed up their pre-regional wins with individual regional titles.

The win was especially sweet for Peterson, who shot a 82, because he has finished second at the regional tournament the last two seasons.

"The front nine went really well, the back nine was a struggle through a few holes but I pulled through and finished pretty good," he said. "I wouldn’t say I made a lot of adjustments. I got off the tee box a lot better this week, the front nine I did putt lights out, the back nine was a different story, but that definitely helped on the front nine."

Peterson only had 12 putts on the first nine holes. He was able to shave nine strokes off the 91 he shot at Hart Ranch one week ago.

With the Class B state tournament set to begin in Watertown at the Cattail Crossing Golf Course June 4, and Peterson said he thinks he's feeling ready.

"I didn’t want to finish second again. It’s good to finish on top for once," he said. "I feel pretty good, hopefully my putting holds up. I have to fix a little in my game, try to get the ball to go a little straighter."

Damion Breese of Wall finished second with a 83, Jim Brockel of Bison took third with a 88, Riley Rankin of Jones County was fourth with a 89 and Huttson Wheeldreyer of Newell rounded out the top five with a 95.

The top 16 golfers made the state tournament, the remaining ones were: Trew Dejong of Philip (97), Isaac Anderson of Bison (97), Keldon Fitzgerald of Philip (97), John Jackson of Newell (98), Ried Hansen of Wall (99), Alec Whitney of Jones County (100), Chase VanDerBoom (101), Keagan Fitch of Philip (102), Jesse McCann of Harding County (103), Taylor Edwards of Hill City (105), Carson Hamil of Philip (106) and Nick Babb of Rapid City Christian (106).

Girls' winner Rush was not happy with her round, just like last week. Her 103 was five strokes worse than the 98 she won with last week.

Still, it was enough to win her second straight 6B title.

"I feel like I could have done a lot better, I’m happy with the outcome but I know that’s not how I actually play," she said. "I switched a lot of things I shouldn’t have, I definitely would go back and fix a lot of things."

Rush said in light of her round last week she made major adjustments to her grip and swing, and said she'll be switching back after Monday's performance.

Scotties coach Doug Hauk said, even though she is just a sophomore, Rush puts a lot of pressure on herself as the team leader. 

"Everyone kind of talks to her and says ‘don’t shoot too high so we can take more kids (to the state tournament),’ it starts building and as a sophomore there’s a little pressure," he said. "She puts it on herself, she can shoot good enough golf, but she thinks she has to play excellent and here (at Hart Ranch) you really have to play smart."

Rush said she's hopeful that the course in Watertown will be more kind to her and the 14 other golfers going to state than Hart Ranch was the past two weeks.

"It’s pretty flat, not a lot of trees," she said. "It’s a lot more open than we’re used to here, so it should be a little better than what we’re used to."

Abbie Nelson of Newell and Camryn Shockley of Lemmon tied for second by shooting 106, Katie Cameron of White River and Kassidy Wheeldreyer of Newell rounded out the top five with a 117.

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Here are the other golfers to qualify for the state tournament: Kelsey Morrison of White River (118), Dixie Ehler of Philip (122), Allison Kahler of Bison (128), Callie Schaffer of Timber Lake (130), Trisha Turner of Hill City (130), Bobbi Antonsen of Philip (134), Greta Anderson of Bison (135), Lily Alexander of Bennett County (149), Michal Ann Beardt of White River (149), Natalie Gross of Timber Lake (151).

Philip took home first in the team competition, with the help of some seniors that Hauk said he was happy to see make the state tournament.

"It was a battle today. They were pretty gutsy today," he said. "It was really neat to get two seniors in this year, they’ve put in four years of hard work so it’s nice to see those senior girls make it to state."

Bobbi Antonsen and Dixie Ehler placed in the top-15, and McKayla Addison, the other senior on the roster, finished 18th with a 160.

Hauk said he still thought the scores were high, and he's happy there are two weeks until the state tournament so the team can work out some kinks. He hopes the Scotties can place in the top eight at the tournament.

"We have to improve our game a lot before we get to state. These greens at Hart Ranch dried up and were fast, they gave us some troubles," he said. "Looking at the scores, (finishing in the top eight) is doable. It’s just like any tournament, everyone has to be playing at the top of their game at the same time, hopefully we’ll be doing that by the time state rolls around."

Philip finished with a 359, Newell finished second with a 379 and White River was third with a 384.

Newell also won the boys team competition by edging out Philip with a 294 compared to the Scotties' 296.

Irrigators coach Mike Phelps said at the start of the season it was a goal to get both teams qualified for state, but he wasn't confident that his team would come out on top when he saw the scores.

"I knew we had the potential, I didn’t think we’d win it with the score we shot today," he said. "We’ve definitely shot lower but it was a tough day, not necessarily with conditions but obviously scoring was very tough out there as everyone faced it. Our team did enough to squeak by."

Going into state, Phelps said he doesn't have a place in mind he'd like his teams to finish but he does have a goal.

"Our main goal is to improve everytime we go out there. We don’t worry about the place itself, we just want to shoot our best," he said. "I tell them at the beginning of the year that you’re not playing against anyone, you’re playing against yourself and against the course, you just have to go out there and keep remembering that."

Bison finished third with a 298.

West River Challenge

In Class AA girls' action, the West River Challenge also got underway Monday from Boulder Canyon Country Club with Rapid City Stevens in the lead.

The Raiders shot a 185, Douglas is in second with a 195, Spearfish is third with a 204 and Sturgis is fourth with a 238.

Through the first nine-hole round, Molly Schwartz of Douglas is first with a 36, Elyse Owen of Stevens is second with a 41, Chelsea Powles of Sturgis and Tanna Phares of Stevens are tied for third with a 45 while Erin Trohkimoinen of Rapid City Central and Jenna Geist of Spearfish are tied for fifth with a 46.

Play resumes today at Spearfish Canyon at 3:30 p.m.

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Contact Geoff Preston at geoffrey.preston@rapidcityjournal.com

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