Gazelles Begin State Tourney Today

Yankton's Kasey Erickson chips onto the No. 7 green during her round in a girls' golf dual against Sioux Falls O'Gorman earlier this season at Fox Run Golf Course. Erickson and the Gazelles begin play in the South Dakota State Class AA Girls' Golf Tournament today (Monday) in Watertown.

Hopes were high this spring for the Yankton High School girls’ golf team.

And for good reason.

“There are a lot of teams up there that can play well, and I was hoping with our finish last year at conference and then at state, that we could be right up there,” head coach Brett Sime said.

That’s where the Gazelles find themselves.

A year ago, Yankton finished second at the Eastern South Dakota Conference tournament and then went on to take third place at the South Dakota State Class AA Tournament.

This year, the Gazelles won the ESD crown and will look to climb the ladder on the biggest stage when they begin action today (Monday) at the Class AA Tournament at Watertown’s Cattail Crossing Golf Course.

“Hopefully we’d be able to improve on third place, but that could be hard,” Sime said. “But that’s still our goal.”

Yankton had a reason to be optimistic for the 2019 season: It returned every golfer from last year’s state tournament squad.

The Gazelles will have senior Kasey Erickson, juniors Morgan Strahl, Peyton Tramp and Josie Krajewski, and sophomores Halle Stephenson and Morgan Sundleaf once again competing at state.

That group, along with Yankton’s other golfers, has battled through a roller coaster spring with the weather, according to Sime — as has every other team.

“They’ve handled it very well,” he said. “They won the conference on a tough course on a wet day, but at the same time, it’s been the same for everybody.”

Yankton leap-frogged Aberdeen Central (last year’s state runner-up) for first place at the ESD Tournament two weeks ago, and Tramp captured the ESD individual title. It was Yankton’s first team and individual conference crowns since 2016.

Now the Gazelles — and everyone else in the AA field — will be tasked with leap-frogging defending state champion Sioux Falls O’Gorman.

“It’s going to be hard to catch O’Gorman, they’ve been the team on top all year long,” said Sime, who pointed out that when O’Gorman has had its main group this spring, the Knights haven’t lost a tournament.

“It also puts some pressure on them to perform at the highest level for two days, and that’s what I’ll tell the girls; ‘just go out and give us the best you have for two days.’”

Aberdeen Central, Yankton and Sioux Falls Roosevelt could be in the hunt for second place, according to Sime, who also said Pierre and Mitchell have played well of late.

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