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Park girls golf: Keys represents Wolfpack at state tournament, takes 29th

Park sophomore Anna Keys finished in 29th place out of 88 competitors in the Class AAA State Tournament, held June 12 and 13 at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids.

Park's Anna Keys gave a glimpse of the future while impressing in the present at last week's Minnesota Girls Golf State Tournament.

Keys, a sophomore, finished in 29th place out of 88 competitors in the Class AAA State Tournament, held June 12 and 13 at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids. Keys shot a 173 at the two-day, 36-hole tournament to end in a four-way tie for 29th place. On the par-72 course, Keys carded an 89 on the first day and an 84 on the second day.

"We're very pleased with what happened," Park head coach Greg Juba said. "Looking back on stuff like that she probably wishes she could have done better and probably could have done better. But, that's the game of golf - you can always do better in golf."

Cretin-Derham Hall sophomore Celia Kuenster won the individual state title with a 141, edging New Prague sophomore McKenzie Neisen, who shot 143. Kuenster and Cassie Deeg of Stillwater shared medalist honors in 2011. However, Deeg took third this year. New Prague won the team title with a 661 four-person, two-day total, beating out defending state champion Wayzata (670) and Stillwater, which finished in second place for a second straight year (669).

Keys was Park's No. 1 golfer in all of its tournaments this year - playing head-to-head against players like Kuenster and Deeg throughout the year, which Juba said helped her improve.

"We have a very tough conference and one thing that did help her was competing against the top players in every match," Juba said. "That's just going to help her."

Keys is a three-sport athlete at Park High School. In addition to being a state participant and All-Conference golfer, she was an All-Conference hockey player this winter and a standout soccer player. She also carries a 3.8 grade point average.

"Anna is exactly what you want as a scholar athlete," Juba said. "She does a great job in school and she's able to get stuff done and get good grades. If we had more student athletes at Park like Anna we'd be in good shape. She's a picture-perfect student athlete that we're looking for at Park High."

Juba said Keys' competitive nature helps her standout on the course.

"She's a very good competitor and she doesn't let things bother her," Juba said. "Bunker Hills is a pretty good course for her because she can drive the ball pretty long and straight and her approach shots are usually right on."

Keys opened the tournament tied for 39th with an 89 after the first day. However, on day No. 2 Keys opened with her best nine holes of the tournament with a 39 on the West nine.

On the first day, Keys hit six out of 14 fairways, had 35 putts with three tap-ins and totaled five pars with no birdies. On the second day, Keys hit seven fairways, had 34 putts with nine tap-ins and carded nine pars and two birdies.

Keys has played the section finals the past three years at Bunker Hills. Juba said that, along with her first day at state, likely gave her confidence on the course on day No. 2.

"She wasn't very happy with the 89 on the first day," Juba said. "On the second day, she had a very, very good start, but had a little bit of trouble finishing where she missed some putts. She had a lot of tap-in putts - ones she just barely missed left or right. She played very well, especially for being a sophomore."

This season, Keys headed up a youthful Park girls golf team that featured three eighth graders among its top five golfers - Lexi Hofstetter, Annika Hein and Brooke Strenke.

"We have three incoming ninth graders that played a lot last year and showed some abilities," Juba said. "They're all good buddies and like to play golf. That's something we haven't had in a long time. These three girls have played golf for a while and they could be pretty good. In the next two years we could have four golfers that know how to play a little bit. We just need to find ways to get them to play a little more often, get more competitive and get them a little better equipment."