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East Ridge girls golf: Raptors on target early

Andriel Aimua and the Raptors won the most recent Suburban East Conference match of the year and currently sit in second place in the conference standings. On the year, Aimua leads the team with a 42.2 nine-hole average 9-hole score.

Despite the weird spring weather-wise, the East Ridge girls golf team has gotten into the swing of things.

The Raptors won the most recent Suburban East Conference match of the year - on Thursday, May 9, at Woodbury's Prestwick Golf Club - and currently sits in second place in the conference standings. Only Forest Lake is above East Ridge in the SEC standings currently, by four points with three conference matches and the conference championship remaining.

Although the team has no seniors, East Ridge head coach Mark Retica said he "absolutely" believed his team would be in the mix for the SEC championship crown this season.

"It's an extremely talented group of kids," Retica said. "I expected us to be right near the top."

At Prestwick, East Ridge shot a 177 four-person total on the par 36 nine-hole course. Forest Lake was a fairly distant second place with a 185. Juniors Andriel Aimua and Molly Richardson led the way for the Raptors with matching scores of 42. Fellow junior Taylor Anderson turned East Ridge's third-best score with a 46 and junior Jaedyn Walz rounded out the Raptors' top four with a 47.

"It's always fun when you get to the end of the day and you find out your squad performed up to their ability and finished first," Retica said.

The win at Prestwick was East Ridge's second SEC match win of the season. The Raptors also won the first conference match of the year at River Oaks in Cottage Grove. The slight gap between Forest Lake and Raptors is mainly due to Wednesday's conference match at Highland National in St. Paul. Forest Lake won the match and East Ridge took seventh place. However, the Raptors were missing three of their top golfers, because the girls were taking advanced placement tests that day at East Ridge High School.

"The kids have academic requirements that far exceed anything we do on the golf course," Retica said. "Every single one of them is an honor student. But, that's really the difference between us and Forest Lake - that one event."

Also, last week, East Ridge took third place - behind Forest Lake (188) and Woodbury (190), respectively - shooting a 191 in an SEC match at North Oaks Country Club on Tuesday, and placed fourth in the non-conference Forest Lake Invitational at Tanners Brook, shooting an 18-hole 368 total score. Blaine (341) on the match, followed by second-place Woodbury (357). Forest Lake shot a 373 to take seventh.

At North Oaks, Aimua shot a 44 to lead the way on the par 38 course. Anderson and freshman Anya Hafiz weren't far back with matching 48 scores and sophomore Morgan Butler rounded out the Raptors' top four with a 51.

In the Forest Lake invite, Aimua had the Raptors' top score - an 81 - to take third place overall.

On the year, Aimua leads the team with a 42.2 nine-hole average score. Richardson, a team captain, is second at 46.5, Daniel Mischke is third at 48.1, Anderson - also a captain - is fourth at 48.6, Butler is fifth at 49.9 and Walz - a captain - is sixth at 49.9.

Last year, Aimua and Richardson were All-Conference and Anderson earned All-Conference honorable mention as sophomores. As a team, East Ridge finished second behind 2012 SEC champion Stillwater.

Also, East Ridge was unable to send a golfer to last year's state tournament - something the Raptors would like to change this season.

East Ridge was at Stillwater Country Club on Monday, after the Bulletin went to press. Next, the Raptors return to Tanners Brook in Forest Lake for a conference match on Thursday, before heading to Duluth for a two-day invitational at Ridgeview Country Club and Northland Golf Course over the weekend.

"I don't think we've reached our full potential yet," Retica said. "I think there are more good things to come."