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Pearson earns first medal at state golf tourney

Photo by Jake McNeill/The Independent Sleepy Eye United’s Sam Price eyes up a putt during Day 1 of the Class A State Golf Tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Course Tuesday in Becker.

BECKER — After two years of falling short of a top-eight place finish, Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Ben Pearson finally achieved his goal of medaling at the Class A Boys State Golf Tournament, placing seventh out of 88 golfers at Pebble Creek Golf Course.

Pearson shot three over par in Day 1 of the tournament on Tuesday for a score of 75 before shooting two over par in Day 2 on Wednesday for an overall score of 149.

“It’s just a lot to come at right now,” Pearson said. “I have gotten a lot of help over the years, especially from my dad, always putting in a ton of work, and my coaches and my family always being supportive of me. Even though it’s an individual win for me, it was more all together with my family and coaches as a win with their support and sacrifices that they made.”

Pearson had previously placed 24th in the 2023 tournament and 16th in the 2022 tournament. Pearson said the experience was important to adjusting to a difficult Pebble Creek course.

“The first couple rounds, I was younger and I didn’t know exactly what all to expect, especially the first time through,” Pearson said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to place, because I had never been there before. But as you play there more and more experience, you know what shots you have to do and how the greens are going to react and everything. Just more experience, just like in any sport, you’re going to be more comfortable in that position. And then with comfort comes trust, and you’ll be able to trust your guts and shoot well.

Photo by Jake McNeill/The Independent Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Ben Pearson putts the ball while New Ulm Cathedral’s Owen Strei looks on during Day 1 of the Class A State Golf Tournament at Pebble Creek Golf Course in Becker on Tuesday.

Though he struggled on Day 2 of the Section 2A Golf Tournament, just managing to hang onto his state-qualifying placement, Pearson managed to bounce back with a pair of great rounds when it mattered most.

“It was a lot of extra work and a lot of time over at the driving range,” he said. “Then playing a couple of rounds trying to figure out what I did wrong at the second day of sections. For me to figure out what the problem was and then be able to react and change what the problem was and make it into a positive really helped me to play better.”

Though there was a one-hour rain delay on Day 2 for the golfers, Pearson hasn’t started his round yet, and was unaffected by the weather. All through the tournament, Pearson was able to rely on his irons for good shots.

“A lot of my irons have been pretty solid,” Pearson said. “And then my driver, especially Day 2, was a lot better, a lot more confidence with that. My short game, up and down was the best part and the biggest part of my success. I was really feeling it with my wedges. It was a lot of good opportunities to score.”

Also on the boys side of the tournament, New Ulm Cathedral’s Owen Strei placed 33rd overall after shooting an 80 on Day 1 and a 82 on Day 2. Cedar Mountain’s Carson Schiller tied for 76th with a 93 on Day 1 and a 88 on Day 2.

The girls side of the meet was stopped after 16 holes on Day 2 due to the weather, for a total of 34 holes in the tournament. Sleepy Eye United finished seventh in the team tournament, shooting +223 overall with a +95 on Day 2. Individually, SEU’s Sam Price shot an 82 on Day 2 to finish in a tie for 22nd with a 171. Springfield’s Mavri Winkelmann shot a 86 on Day 2 to finish 40th with a 183, while SEU’s Chloe Walter shot a 89 on Day 2 to finish 45th and a 198.

Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop’s Jenna Schweiss shot a 98 on Day 2 for a total of 199to finish 64th, and SEU’s Kiara Murphy shot a 88 on Day 2 to finish with a 201 in 65th. Springfield’s Ava Lipetzky shot a 93 on Day 2 to finish 70th with a 209, while SEU’s Meriden Andres shot a 92 on Day 2 to finish 71st with a 210. SEU’s Ella Pollard shot a Day 2 total of 99 to finish 74th with a 215.

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