Owatonna’s Jirele ekes out Class 3A girls golf championship

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Owatonna sophomore Carmen Jirele shot a 142 on the second day of the Class 3A state championships held at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids and was forced to sweat Maple Grove senior Amelia Morton’s final few holes.

Not to worry. Morton finished one stroke back.

“I wasn’t really watching the other scores,” Jirele said. “It’s kind of crazy; surreal. I wasn’t thinking I would win it. Maybe top-seven.”

Scoring 34th last season made Wednesday’s result all the more satisfying. “My overall game improved so much over the summer,” Jirele said. “And I came into state this year having won the Big 9 conference tournament and played so well at sections. I just tried to take it one shot at a time,” Jirele said. “Golf is such a long game.”

Simley senior Reese McCauley wrapped her decorated career with a third-place finish. “Humility is something I have learned,” said McCauley, who won the Class 3A title a year ago. She will join her sister Isabella with the Gophers next season. “I feel that I have learned a lot on and off the course. You have to stay patient with it.”

Morton and Maple Grove did win their second consecutive Class 3A team title, which helped ease the senior’s frustration with missing out on the individual title. “I feel like I stayed pretty steady out there,” said Morton, crediting her mental game with at least putting her in contention. “I also felt like I made a lot more putts than I used to, and I kind of just try to knock it a little bit closer and try to make a couple more.”

Players receiving another blue ribbon included freshmen Payton Anderson and Annika Hendrickson, plus seniors McKenna Hogan and Morton. The Crimson defeated Wayzata 611-626.

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