Canton senior lives ‘dream’

Vermillion edged Canton by one stroke to take third place with a score of 714 in the State Class A Girls' Golf Tournament, held Monday and Tuesday at The Bluffs in Vermillion. Team members are Brooke Schwasinger, Allison Heine, Coach Kirk Hogen, Ellen Brown, McKenzie Huska and Kelly Amundson. (Photo by Cindy Johnson Brown)

After finishing the first day strong, Kylie Gaughenbaugh remained on top to take the individual title at the State Class A Girls' Golf Tournament, which concluded Tuesday at The Bluffs Golf Course in Vermillion.

The Chargers from Sioux Falls Christian continued their consistent play to capture the team championship by 20 strokes over Parkston.

Gaughenbaugh, a senior who will be golfing at the University of South Dakota next year, finished the second round at 76 – two more than her first round finish – to end with a final carding of 150.

It had been a goal of hers for years, Gaughenbaugh said, and to finally win state meant a lot to her.

"I'm really excited. I started golf in seventh grade so it's a big achievement for me," she said. "I worked hard and it was my dream to win state – that's what I wanted to do so I did it."

The back nine caused some troubles for Gaughenbaugh, as mental mistakes caused her to take extra strokes.

"I started off good with two under (after the first nine holes) and then didn't do so hot on the back," she said. "I was missing easy puts, which comes from being tired and hurrying. Overall though, at the end I picked it up and I did pretty good again."

When she would miss an easy put, Gaughenbaugh said she wouldn't let it affect her game.

"I wouldn't worry when I missed a putt," she said. "When I would miss a putt, so would the other girls in my group so I knew I wasn't giving up a stroke. I was just mad at myself for missing one."

After they swept the competition away on Monday, S.F. Christian had a 17-stroke cushion heading into the second day. The Chargers did add a few strokes, but finished the second round at 337 and won the tournament with a score of 655.

Chargers head coach Don Garnaas said it was a great tournament for his team and was proud of their finish.

"I feel elated, I feel excited (to be state champs)," Garnaas said. "I think they competed very well, considering the pressure that was on them. We shot our second-best score of the year with 337. We played just awesome."

As the defending state champions, Vermillion had big shoes to fill at this year's tournament. Tanagers' head coach Kirk Hogen said his team was in a close race with the other top teams.

"I thought it would be pretty close between four or five of us," he said. "(Sioux Falls Christian) pretty much walked away with it (Monday), so it was a battle between about four of us to see who would get third, fourth, fifth and sixth."

Despite the top finish last year, Hogen said he expected his team to finish around third place at this year's tournament.

"That was what we were hoping for – even though you still want to go into the tournament thinking you have a legitimate chance of winning, otherwise you're not in the competition," Hogen said. "That's where we were hoping to be so it was a good way to finish. After winning last year, we're still happy with this season, we had a good season."

As the tournament's host, Hogen said he enjoys showing off the nice course.

"It's good for us – I have a staff (at The Bluffs) that's great, they always know what's going on. Mark does a great job with the outside and it's in great shape, especially with all the rain we've been dealing with," he said.

Hogen also said he likes the community aspect that comes with hosting the state tournament.

"It's fun to see the community get involved and really, I think out of all the tournaments we've been to, this was the most spectators I've seen at a state tournament ever, which is nice," Hogen said.

Gaughenbaugh said she's knows there will be differences next year at the Division I college level, but she's prepared for the challenge.

"I'm really excited to play for USD next year," she said. "I've got to get a few kinks out first, but I'll be ready for it."

Coyotes' head coach Nick Hovden said he has high hopes for Gaughenbaugh's career in Vermillion.

"We're very excited to have Kylie join our young, up and coming Division I golf program. She brings a great golf game to the program," he said. "I don't think she'll have a problem transitioning (from high school to college). Her length off the tee will definitely help her out. I do know that not only on the course is she a great player, but off the course she's a tremendous student and we're really looking forward to both."

Parkston finished the tournament as runner-up, 20 strokes behind SFC. Vermillion edged Canton by one stroke to take third place with a score of 714 and the C-Hawks took fourth with 715.

The All-Tournament Team included the top six golfers – Gaughenbaugh, Wynja, Logan Wagner of Parkston, Talia Peters of Wagner, Lead-Deadwood's Elise Nichols and Dakota Valley's Shyler Funck.

Lead-Deadwood's Mikayla Gallagher earned some of the spotlight as well, as she was the tournament's only player to hit a hole-in-one on Hole 12 of the second day.

Final Round, Tuesday, The Bluffs Golf Course, Vermillion

TEAM SCORES: S.F. Christian 655, Parkston 675, Vermillion 714, Canton 715, Lead-Deadwood 719, Hot Springs 724, Dell Rapids 731, Elk Point-Jefferson 745, Mobridge-Pollock 755, Madison 776, Aberdeen Roncalli 784, Chamberlain 830, Belle Fourche 833, Custer 869

Individual

172 – Ellen Brown, Kelly Amundson

182 – Kenzie Huska,

188 – Brooke Schwasinger,

211 – Allison Heine,

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