BEMIDJI -- Whatever the secret is to being “in the zone,” Nicki Son found it on Friday.
“I’ve never played like this before,” said the Bemidji High School girls golf senior. “To be honest, I just felt in my element for the first time. My head was nowhere else, and I was just having fun. Genuinely having fun.”
Son carded a personal-best 77 during the BHS Invite at the Bemidji Town and Country Club, capturing second place on the individual leaderboard and lifting the Lumberjacks into the top half of the 14-team field.
“If I had to sum Nicki up, it’s just ‘solid.’ All around solid,” BHS head coach Tina Offerdahl said. “The girls can count on her. They know she’s going to come in, support them no matter what they do. It helps them gel a little bit, knowing your leader is supporting you.”
Son’s 5-over-par performance was one stroke behind Brainerd’s Katie Foley, whose 76 earned her first place.
Son had a pair of birdies on the day -- Nos. 8 and 10 -- and knew she was on her game once she sunk the first birdie putt.
“After that, I kind of calmed down a little bit and was able to play,” Son said. “After each shot, I knew what I was doing. I was hitting the ball right. I knew that each swing was doing what I wanted it to do. I just felt very calm.”
She came into her own particularly on the back nine. Son hit par after the turn, including pars on her final five holes, and had just one bogey over the final half of the course.
“Nicki, on an individual level, absolutely has the potential and the possibility to make it all the way to state,” Offerdahl said. “It would be super awesome to see that happen for her. After today’s round, she sees and understands and has a little more confidence that it maybe could happen for her.”
And it sure didn’t hurt playing at home either. While high school golfers are often whisked away to foreign courses around the state, there’s a particular advantage to standing on familiar ground.
“Being at home is perfect. You can’t ask for any better,” Offerdahl said. “The girls know the course. They know how to get out of trouble if they find it, but they know where the trouble is to try to stay away from it. When you’re playing a course you don’t know, it’s very easy to find trouble. So knowing the course (already puts you) well ahead of the field.”
As a team, Bemidji shot a 399 for its best showing of the young season. Rylie Jones broke 100 with a 97, which put her 30th overall, while Kate Hildenbrand (112, 57th) and Mataya Carter (113, 58th) rounded out the team score. Mya Huseby carded a 118 for the Jacks to place 63rd, as well.
Brainerd took the team title with a 322 showing, and Detroit Lakes (331) and Pequot Lakes (366) rounded out the top three.
While BHS is still finding its footing as a group -- having finished the middle of the pack in each of its meets this year -- Son is excited about the potential the team holds moving forward.
“Our team is pretty young, experience-wise,” Son said. “A lot of them haven’t played a lot, and I think that’s one of the key things for them: just to come out and have fun and play more. … Even though we’ve had a tough (start to the) season and last year was tough, if we have a positive attitude, we can do it.”
The Lumberjacks are next off to a Brainerd invitational, which starts at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 3.
1-Brainerd 322; 2-Detroit Lakes 331; 3-Pequot Lakes 366; 4-Fergus Falls 367; 5-East Grand Forks 388; 6-Sartell-St. Stephen 398; 7-Bemidji 399; T8-Roseau 403; T8-Crookston 403; 10-Willmar 407; 11-Moorhead 412; 12-St. Cloud 424; 13-Thief River Falls 438; 14-Rocori 454.