Nikki Torgerson has been here before. Alexie Portz hasn’t.
Torgerson, a sophomore St. Cloud Apollo golfer, has qualified for the Class 3A state girls golf tournament the past two years. Portz, a junior from St. Cloud Tech, qualified for the first time after winning the Section 8-3A tournament last week in Long Prairie.
Torgerson has a leg up on Portz when it comes to experience. Both admit they will be a little nervous when they tee off at 1:12 p.m. today at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids.
Torgerson is hoping to shoot in the low 80s today and Wednesday.
“I don’t think my nerves will get me as much as they did the past two years,” Torgerson said. “But I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous for that first shot. It’s a big accomplishment for me to get here three years in a row. It’s been my goal all year. I’m glad to be here again.”
Portz shot a two-day score of 165 to win the section tournament last week. She also has a goal of staying in the mid-80s both days. Her best round this year was an 80. Her personal-best is a round of 78.
“To me, there’s not pressure being here. I’m just going to go out there and have fun,” Portz said. “It was my goal all year to get here. That was the pressure part. It’s exciting now.
“When I came into the clubhouse in Long Prairie and found out I was the leader, I was kind of shocked. I didn’t think I had played that well to be the leader.”
Torgerson is coached by former Apollo three-time state champion and University of Minnesota golfer Samantha Sommers.
Sommers thinks Torgerson is ready to face a tough Class 3A field that includes five of the top 10 finishers from last season, including two-time defending champion Celia Kuenster of Cretin-Derham Hall.
“Nikki’s played really well this spring. She’s dealt well with the bad weather. I think Bunker Hills sets up well for Nikki. If she keeps her head in the game, she’ll do just fine,” Sommers said. “She knows what she’s capable of doing. She’s played here before and knows what not to do.”
Portiz is coached by Ryan Marwitz. He’s been impressed with Portz’s play off the tee this season. Being able to hit long is a good trait to have at a big course like Bunker Hills.
“It’s a playable course and you have to hit long to do well on it,” Marwitz said. “Alexie has an advantage there. She hits it far and keeps it in play. If she does that, she’ll be fine. This year they moved up the tee boxes. The par 5’s play shorter on the back. I think her playing on a course like Long Prairie at sections will help her for Bunker Hills.
“It’s nice to see her come through this year and make it to state. She’s always been so close in the past.”
Both Torgerson and Portz know they are facing a tough field this week. They are both glad just to have made it this far after the weather they had to deal with this spring.
“I’m just excited for some summer weather,” Portz said with a laugh. “It was a tough spring, some rough conditions. I’m ready to see some good weather and lower scores this week.”
Said Torgerson: “I think I’ve had two decent rounds this year. It’s been difficult to play in, but I’ve gotten used to it. It hasn’t affected too much. I just want two good rounds this week.”
Torgerson and Portz were the only qualifiers for the Class 3A girls meet. Qualifying for the Class 2A meet at the Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan were St. Cloud Cathedral’s Lucy Gaetz, Kimball/Eden Valley-Watkins’ Nicole Vossen and Rocori’s Marja Sorensen. Sorensen took ninth place as an individual last season at state.
Five area golfers qualified for the Class 2A boys state meet in Jordan. That list includes Melrose’s Wesley Dickhaus, Albany’s Jordan LeClair and David Schneider, Rocori’s Logan Konop and Becker’s Billy Dingmann.
In Class 3A, St. Cloud Tech’s Ian Hiltner and David Scharenbroich both qualified.
No area golfers qualified for the Class A meet, which begins today at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker.
The boys tee off at 7:30 in the morning both days. The girls tee off at 11:40 a.m. both days.