Another date at state for 'Jacks
June 10, 2022
The Cloquet High School boys golf team, the defending Class AA Minnesota state champions, are heading to the state tournament once again.
In windy and chilly conditions last week, the boys unequivocally won the Section 7AA crown at the Quarry golf course at Giants Ridge in Biwabik June 1-2. The top three individuals in the two-round meet were all Cloquet players, with junior Karson Patten medaling as individual champion as well.
"On Day 1 it was windy and there was a lot of pollen in the air," said proud head coach Aaron Young. "It actually made following the flight of the ball difficult. Even so, we started out fast with six of our players in the top 10 on the front nine."
The Quarry was formerly an actual Iron Range sand quarry.
"On Day 2 it was windier yet, making the challenging weaving canyon course even more difficult, but we even increased our team lead," Young added.
Patten scored 153 (76-77), followed by sophomore Anders Gunelson with 157 (77-80), and senior Jacob Walsh 163 (83-80) in third. The top four players of each team determine team scoring. Freshman Lance Saylor finished sixth overall in the Section 7AA meet with impressive scores of 166 (87-79) to make Cloquet's team total of 635.
Patten said the win was no surprise. "We kind of expected to do that well," he said of the section meet. "We go there a lot - it's pretty much like a home course."
The win sends Patten on his third trip to state: he's been there every year since eighth grade except his freshman year, when there was no tournament because of the pandemic.
Mora was second with an overall score of 687 and Rock Ridge third at 689. Cloquet won the section title by a remarkable 52 strokes.
Not bad for a team that graduated three of its top players last year, including Class AA state champion Sam Baker.
Of the six tournament players - which also included sophomore Cooper Elena and freshman Karson Young (both scored 176) - Patten, Walsh and Young played at the state tournament last year. Last year, Young had a fabulous tournament, finishing fifth in the state as an eighth-grader.
All six players will advance to state. Any one of them could do well, depending on the day.
"Everyone has their own hot days, but it all comes together and we always seem to have four solid scores," Patten said. "That's all that really matters."
The Cloquet girls team also competed at the Section 7AA meet in Biwabik last week. CHS girls varsity players include Maddie Young, Avery Carlson, and Abby and Juli Steinert. Girls coach Matt Carlson said twins Juli and Abby made it to the second day. Juli Steinert was the top finisher for the Cloquet girls, taking eighth place at the section meet, missing the top five individual cutoff for her own trip to state.
The Class AA state tourney is, once again, being conducted at the Ridges at Sand Creek golf course June 14-15.
Most of the Cloquet boys varsity players have played the course and are familiar with the Ridges at Sand Creek layout. Interestingly, both the Sands (in Jordan, Minnesota) and the back nine at Cloquet Country Club were designed by legendary golf course architect Joel Goldstrand. With most practice rounds and home tournaments at CCC, maybe this gives the 'Jacks an overlooked advantage.
Still, practice makes perfect. The team went to Ridges for a practice round Tuesday and plan to play there again Monday before the state tournament begins Tuesday, June 14.
When asked what their goal was for state this year, Patten didn't hesitate.
"To win," he said.
Pine Knot editor Jana Peterson contributed to this story.