Senior Hannah Hubbart and junior Terry Kuhn are both headed to the Class AAA state golf meet after qualifying on Wednesday, May 29, at their section meets. Hubbart took fourth with a two-day score of 177 (88-89) at the Section 1AAA girls' meet held at Legacy Golf in Faribault.
Kuhn finished as the Section 1AAA runner-up with a score of 147 (73-74) at The Jewel Golf Club in Lake City. Both are making their first state tournament appearances. The Class AAA boys' and girls' state meets will be held at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids on Tuesday, June 11, and Wednesday, June 12.
Hubbart is ending her senior season on a high note as she preps for the state tournament, which she said was a surprise to her.
"It was a goal I had at the beginning of the season, but I never knew I could or would actually be able to accomplish it," Hubbart said.
She said that heading into sections, she was still working on some parts of her game after being disappointed by her performance at the Metro East Conference championship and it came as a surprise that she was in contention.
"I did not think I was golfing that good because I knew how strong the section is and how challenging it is to place," Hubbart said. "I was having a fairly decent round. My iron shots were going really well that round which helped me limit some of the putts I had."
Girls' head coach Beck Hartung said that she thought Hubbart had a good chance of qualifying for state heading into sections, and after Day 1 that it was a real possibility. As the second round progressed, she knew it would be close but they could not be for sure until it was announced. Hartung also said that Hubbart has really come into her own as a golfer during her senior season.
"Just her maturity this year, just mentally and emotionally keeping it together," Hartung said. "If she has a bad hole, she's [had] the ability to come back and I've seen a lot more confidence in her this year, in her game. It's been fun to watch her grow up this last year."
Hubbart said she will play Bunker Hills a few times in preparation for the state meet while just trying to stay sharp. As for any goals for state, she said she just wants to enjoy the experience.
"I really don't have any goals at state because I never thought I would actually make it. I am just happy I am given the opportunity to go," Hubbart said. "I am just going to go out, try my best and have some fun at my last sporting event as a Hastings Raider."
The Hastings girls' team had the goal of making it to the second day, which they did as they finished fifth out of 12 teams after day one. Freshman Megan Brown was the Raiders' second-leading scorer with a 200, senior Sam Benson shot a 214, freshman Madison Daley was one stroke behind Benson with a 215, freshman Lauren Hubbart came in with a 219 and freshman Ashleyn Endres shot a 221.
Kuhn continues a strong tradition
Kuhn is the latest in a long string of Hastings boys' golfers who have golfed at the state meet, carrying the torch Nick Dittrich's appearance last year. Kuhn said that he first realized he had a really good chance at qualifying after he chipped in for birdie, and then holed-out for eagle from 80 yards to start the back nine on Day 2.
"Then when I got to 18, I walked up to the 18 green and saw all my teammates and my family which made me super pumped, and I honestly couldn't believe I was gonna go to the state tournament," Kuhn said. "State definitely was a goal but wasn't the main goal. I just wanted to become a more consistent golfer by keeping my score in the 70s."
Boys' head coach Pete McGinnis said he knew Kuhn had a really good chance, barring a catastrophe, after that hot start to the back nine on Day 2. He also said that Kuhn's confidence is really helping to guide him and allowing him to play well.
"I just think he's got the confidence, he knows that if he doesn't hit a green, he knows he has a great chance of getting up and down," McGinnis said. "Earlier this year he shot a 41 (on nine holes) but he didn't hit a fairway. When you can score like that, you're doing some of those little things very well. He's reading the greens and gets himself in a good position."
Echoing McGinnis, Kuhn said he was confident heading into sections, especially in his short game.
"I was very confident in my game," he said. "My putting was struggling before sections but when I got to sections I didn't miss a putt out of six feet. My putting is something I can lean on but definitely (also) my ability to hit fairways."
Like Hubbart, Kuhn said he's going into the state meet with no real concrete goals.
"I'm just gonna go into the tournament without expectations and just enjoy the experience," he said.
As a team, the Hastings boys finished fourth and were just five strokes out of third with a two-day team score of 638. Following Kuhn was junior Jack Klimek who shot a 159 (83-76) who McGinnis praised for being able to bounce back after a rough day one. Fellow junior Sam Brown was consistent with a day one 81 and day two 82 for a 163 and McGinnis said one bad hole cost him a 78 on the first day. Sophomore Joe Benson contributed a 169 (83-86), fellow sophomore Bailey Johnston added a 177 (89-88) and eighth-grader Ryan Swanson shot a 191 (100-91).