It was a close call, but Natali Fellows punched her ticket to the State 2A Tournament with a bogey on the first playoff hole against Albert Lea's Sam Nelsen last Tuesday at the Sections Meet.
Fellows and Nelsen each finished their round with a 94 at the Ridges at Sand Creek golf course in Jordan to tie for sixth overall.
Nelsen had the tee box on the first playoff hole. Her ball didn't travel far off the tee and found the rough.
Fellows tee shot ended up in the left lateral hazard about 200 yards off the tee.
But, Nelsen pulled her second shot and also found the same hazard Fellows hit into.
Fellows had to drop and then laid up to about 100 yards from the rough. Nelsen also needed to drop and found a fairway bunker with her next shot.
Nelsen, who is lying four, hits her fifth shot about 60 yards short of the green.
Fellows, who is lying three, ends up 10 yards short of the green on her approach. She chips on and makes a five foot bogey putt to defeat Nelsen in the playoff and solidify the fifth and final qualifying spot for the State Meet.
"Natali had to make a big jump this year from playing No. 3 last year to moving to the No. 1 position and she has stepped into that role beautifully, being a leader for our team," head coach Carol Weerts says.
Weerts had no doubt Fellows has the skill and mental game to move on to the State Tournament.
"If she starts off a little rough sometimes it is hard for her to get back into the swing of things," Weerts adds. "But she has great focus and she knows how to move on and forget the past no matter how bad it was."
She shot a 47 on the back side to start the day at the Section 2A Meet.
"I always tell my girls to try to stay at least one or two strokes with your opponents, so you still have a chance to come from behind and beat them," Weerts adds. "Natali did a great job after the turn, two of her opponents had her by one or two strokes and the other girl was five behind her."
She carded an eight on the second hole, hitting her ball into the hazard twice.
But, the next four holes, Fellows played the course at 1-over.
Again on the seventh hole, she hit a road block and carded another eight, which was her third one on the day, according to Weerts. She finished her round going 3-over in the final two holes for a 47 on the front.
Fellows recorded her best rounds of the season at the South Central Conference meet, where she shot 92 (47-45) and at the 2A Sub-section Meet where she shot 88 (43-45).
Her best nine hole performance came against Jackson County Central, when she shot 46. Fellows salvaged her round with a closing eagle on the final hole and finished the last five holes 1-over-par.
Trianna Thong captured medalist honors with a 79 and helped Jordan advance to the sectional team crown and a trip to the Class State 2A Meet.
Girls team results were: Jordan 363, Mankato East 374, Albert Lea 385, St. Peter 420.
Mankato East's Caylin Steinberg shot 84 to claim second place overall, while Belle Plaine's Hannah Johnson was third overall with an 85.
Mankato East's Caitlin Clause (87), Waseca's Sydney O'Brien (88) and Blue Earth Area's Fellows (94) rounded out the individual state qualifiers.
Fellows, a sophomore, will make her individual 2A State debut at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 10, back at the Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan.
The United South Central girls golf team are heading to the State Tournament for the second year in a row.
The Rebels dominated the field by beating out second place Springfield by 26 strokes.
Leading the way for USC was Veronica Schindler (second overall, 89) and Kyley Bullerman (third overall, 90). Katelyn Loegering shot 108 and Morgan Pyzick shot 118.