C-Hawks win Region 2A title; Tanagers place third

A week ago, Canton didn't even finish in the top three at the Big Sioux Conference meet.

In fact, the C-Hawks finished fifth.

One week later, Canton will go to state after winning the Region 2A meet in Beresford on Monday with a team score of 362.

"I'm still in shock and I can't tell you how proud I am of my team," Canton head coach Jeff Keyman said.

A year after missing the state tournament by one stroke, Keyman said the team struggled with being consistent all year.

But on Monday, the C-Hawks put it all together.

"Getting everyone to play well on the same day was a struggle, so I told them to focus on battling on every shot and every hole," Keyman said. "Our motivation all year was to find that one stroke that we missed last year."

Canton's Kylie Gaughenbaugh set a consistent pace for the C-Hawks early on after she came in from the front nine with a 39, which was the lowest score by four strokes.

Gaughenbaugh didn't let up either.

Even though she didn't put up another 39, she still fired the lowest score of the second round with a 41 to finish with an 80. "I just wanted to keep playing how I was playing," Gaughenbaugh said. "I didn't want to do anything spectacular. I just wanted to make pars."

Keyman wasn't surprised Gaughenbaugh won the Region considering she won the Big Sioux Conference Meet.

"Kylie has been a rock all year long; we expected her to do well and we got that," Keyman said. "To win the player and team award at Regions is beyond words."

Gaughenbaugh was followed by Lindsey Sorlie, who shot an 88, which was good for fourth place.

Canton's third golfer in the top 10 was Kayla Kaltenbach, who finished right at 10th with a 92. Hannah Zylstra provided the C-Hawks crucial fourth score with a 102, good enough for 26th place. Gaughenbaugh came away with the individual title, but she was even happier the whole team will make it to the state meet. "At the beginning of the year, we were not close to being in the top three,' Gaughenbaugh said. "It's been a struggle, but we finally came through as a team and proved we could do this."

The junior didn't completely run away with the title as she was pushed by a seventh-grader from Vermillion, Kasey Nielsen. Gaughenbaugh did lead almost the entire way, but Nielsen, who was golfing in the same group, pulled within two strokes a couple times in the back nine.

But the competition only helped Gaughenbaugh.

"Kasey's a good player, and I am a competitive person, so I usually play better with better competition," Gaughenbaugh said.

Nielsen did come away with a second place finish with a score of 85 in her first ever Region appearance.

"I was playing good for the first few holes," Nielsen said. "I was close on a lot of my putts, and I hit my irons well. I expected to shoot well, but not an 85."

Nielsen was followed by her twin sister Kelly, who fired a 91, which tied for eighth place and helped Vermillion finish in third, which means the Tanagers will make the trip to Rapid City for the state meet on May 24 through the 25.

Kasey Nielsen said she is excited for the trip to state. "It's going to be fun because the whole team is fun to be around," she said. "I am expecting us to do well at state."

Vermillion finished with a team score of 369, which was just one shot away from finishing in second. Even though the Tanagers accomplished the goal of making it to state, head coach Kirk Hogen wasn't happy with the team's score.

"We didn't put up the kind of score we are capable of putting up, especially on such a nice day like today," Hogen said. "We need to refocus and get a better team performance and do better at state."

Hogen said he was happy with how both of the Nielsens shot.

"They are both good golfers, and we got production from them today; they know how to keep focused and not let anything bother them," Hogen said. "Now it's my job to get the team ready for state."

Ellen Brown put up a top-10 score for Vermillion after tying for 10th with a 92. Lauren Hansen finished in 25th with a 101 and Kristen Schwasinger shot a 103. Sioux Falls Christian finished in second place with a score of 368, and were led by Abby Perrenoud's third place finish (87).

With the state meet a week away, Canton will try and do the one thing which has eluded the team all year – remaining consistent.

"My expectation is to hopefully do what we did here," Keyman said. "Just keep focus and keep battling each shot and each hole again like we did here."

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