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GIRLS GOLF: Kate Hildenbrand hits high point as senior year hits culmination

Kate Hildenbrand shot a 25-over-par 97, matching her best round ever just as her Lumberjack career enters its climactic finish.

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Bemidji senior Kate Hildenbrand tees off at hole No. 18 during a home dual against Fergus Falls on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- If Kate Hildenbrand is having a good round of golf, she’s probably the last to know.

So when the Bemidji High School girls golfer tied her personal best on Thursday at the Bemidji Town and Country Club, she only found out once her round was over.

“I honestly didn’t know my score,” Hildenbrand said. “I get in my head if I look at it. I didn’t know until the very end, but once I found out, I was happy.”

She’s strategic about it, too. Although Hildenbrand has to use her phone to input other golfers’ scores, “I tilt my phone so I can’t see mine,” she said. “It stresses me out.”

That approach worked wonders for her on Thursday. The BHS senior shot a 25-over-par 97, matching her best round ever just as her Lumberjack career enters its climactic finish.

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Bemidji senior Kate Hildenbrand chips out of a bunker at hole No. 17 during a home dual against Fergus Falls on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“Her growth has been great,” Bemidji head coach Tina Offerdahl said. “I think it’s more of a confidence level in her game because she’s seeing that she can do it now. … She’s got more confidence in herself.”

BHS hosted Fergus Falls in a dual at BTCC, with the Otters prevailing behind a team score of 336. But the Jacks’ score of 363 is a season best and just the second time all year that the team has posted four scores at 97 or below.

“We had four scores under 100 today for a 363, which is our lowest team round of the season,” Offerdahl said. “You can’t ask for anything better going into a section tournament five days from now.”

Hildenbrand said her long game was particularly useful on Thursday, but more than that, a smaller field directly benefited her style of play. She was paired with teammate Mya Huseby, and a little extra chit chat between strokes helped Hildenbrand find a groove.

“My fairway shots definitely helped today. They’re usually not as straight as they were,” she said. “I think it also really helps playing with people who talk to me. I like to talk when I golf, and it puts me in a better mood.”

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Bemidji senior Tatum Offerdahl chips toward the pin on hole No. 17 during a home dual against Fergus Falls on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Outside of Hildenbrand, Tatum Offerdahl paced Bemidji with an 8-over-par 80, while Brynn Meyer carded a 92. Madeline Larson fired a 94, and Hildenbrand’s 97 closed the team score.

Mya Huseby and Margie Anderson both shot 104 to close out the team’s performances.

Ellia Soydara of Fergus Falls had the lowest round of the day, shooting a 79 to beat Tatum Offerdahl by one stroke.

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On a young BHS team, Hildenbrand stands as one of two seniors -- Tatum Offerdahl being the other. But as the program retools, its young core will be better off for an influence like Hildenbrand’s.

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Bemidji sophomore Madeline Larson putts at hole No. 18 during a home dual against Fergus Falls on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“Kate brings a lot of energy and positivity. Just all good,” coach Offerdahl said. “Even when she has a bad day, you look at her and you wouldn’t know it. Her leadership and positivity are huge. … If somebody makes it fun for an underclassman, that’s huge for building the (program).”

Next up, Hildenbrand will help lead the Lumberjacks into the Section 8-3A Tournament, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 31, and Wednesday, June 1. She has a pretty clear focus on what’s important, and it certainly doesn’t involve peeking at her scorecard early.

“I’m just going to finish it out strong,” Hildenbrand said. “(My goal) is just to have fun. I’m not that competitive in this sport, like others are. I’m just trying to have fun with it.”

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Bemidji freshman Brynn Meyer chips toward the pin at hole No. 18 during a home dual against Fergus Falls on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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