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Cloquet golf teams dominate on home course

Nearly 120 high school boys and girls golfers converged on the Cloquet Country Club for Monday’s Cloquet Invitational. “We enjoy hosting this annual, special event.” said Cloquet boys golf coach Aaron Young. “It gives us a chance to showcase our beautiful, 100-year-old golf course.”

Not long ago, there were still snow banks in the golf course parking lot. Cloquet’s golf teams had played numerous away meets before even practicing outdoors. On Monday, however, it was bright and sunny, although east winds coming off Lake Superior prevented temperatures from reaching the predicted highs. Still, it was a very comfortable day.

Especially for the Lumberjacks. The Cloquet boys comfortably won the 11-team invitational with an outstanding team score of 295, while the girls defeated five other teams to take first.

“To break a team score of 300 is quite an accomplishment,” said Young of his boys team. “That score will have a team finish near the top of most events. We’ve done it several times in the past, but not very often.”

High school golf features six-player teams with the top four scores counted toward the team score. For example, if the top four players shot 75, the team total would be 300. A perfect par score at the Cloquet Country Club is 71.

Leading the Cloquet boys squad Monday was junior Cooper Ellena, who tied Hermantown’s Holdyn Evjen for medalist honors with a solid 73. Five of the top seven individual scorers were from Cloquet. Rounding out the Cloquet scores were Anders Gunelson, Karson Patten and Karson Young, each with a score of 74, followed by Blair Chartier with 76 and Colin Young with 84. The Hermantown boys were second with a team total of 307, and Grand Rapids third with a 326.

Following Minnesota State Mankato recruit Karson Patten for a few holes with both of his grandpas (Jim Patten and Harry Berg), the senior displayed his golf firepower. On the par 3 fourth hole, his tee shot was 12 feet to the left of the cup. He just missed his birdie. The fifth hole at Cloquet is a beautiful par five, 525 yards long, with a large elevation change from tee to fairway. After a great drive slightly off the fairway, Karson hit a five iron 240 yards onto the green, then two-putted for a birdie. On six — another par five over 500 yards with a water trap in front of the green — Patten put it on the green’s fringe in two shots. He three-putted from there for par, just missing a birdie. It was fun to watch.

The Cloquet girls golf team performed admirably as well on Monday.

“We’ve been challenging a couple of freshmen to play on the varsity squad and they have responded very well,” said girls coach Matt Carlson. “It’s great because next week are the section tournaments. Due to weather, we had a compressed schedule this year, yet the coaching staff feels we can have an impact on section results.”

The Cloquet girls also won their invitational tournament over six regional teams. Junior Abigail Steinert was the tourney medalist with a 90. Her twin sister, JuliAnn Steinert, was second with a 91. Other Cloquet scores included Addison Johnson 101, Kourtney Kavanaugh 103, and Avery Carlson 104. Cloquet girls have only one senior on their 2023 team. Second place went to the team from Duluth East, next was Hermantown, with the Grand Rapids squad rounding out the top four.

Both the Cloquet boys and girls teams will be playing next week in the Section 7AA tournament at the Quarry golf course at the Giants Ridge complex in Biwabik, Minnesota. Cloquet boys have won the 7AA Section five years in a row.

Coach Young said the section competition will likely come from Hermantown, but he is optimistic.

“We are pretty balanced with seven players that can score in the 70s so that is an advantage especially up in the northland,” he said. “Hopefully we will continue our streak of state tournament appearances, but next week will tell the tale at the Quarry.”

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