By Scott Thoma
West Central Tribune
JORDAN -- Minnewaska Area has been producing state girls' golf titles about as readily as Connecticut has been winning women's college basketball games.
The Lakers have scorched every course they've played en route to winning four straight state titles (one in Class A and the last three in AA). The Lakers are heavily favored to win title No. 5, especially after bringing back five of their top six golfers from a team that won the state championship last year by 67 strokes over runner-up Red Wing.
The state boys and girls golf tournament begins today and concludes on Thursday. The Class A tournament is at Pebble Creek Golf Course in Becker and the AA at Sand Creek in Jordan.
Sarah Roering, a senior, was the individual Class AA state champion two years ago as a sophomore and then placed fourth last season as her sister, Emily, won the AA title in her senior year.
The team's only other senior on this year's team, Allie Ostrander, has been the state runner-up each of the past two seasons to the Roering siblings.
"I'd like to think it's my turn," laughed Ostrander, who shot a 148 in last year's meet to finish two shots behind Emily Roering. The year before, Ostrander was second by three shots to Sarah Roering.
"I'll just play the best I can and we'll see what happens," said Ostrander, a four-sport standout at Minnewaska. "We have several players on our team who could end up winning. We know our own players will be among our toughest competition."
Ostrander and Sarah Roering have been on all five state teams.
"I still get nervous," admitted Ostrander. "I don't really know why I do after being here before, but I always get nervous. Especially on the first tee. Once I get past the first hole, I'm usually okay."
Minnewaska's main ingredient for a winning recipe has been the players' dedication to the sport, spending countless hours on the golf course all spring and summer. And the dynasty has been allowed to continue because of the team's stepladder of grades each season. In the last five seasons, the Lakers haven't been senior-dominated. The lineup generally consists of one or two players in each grade beginning in seventh or eighth grade. This year, Roering and Ostrander are the lone seniors with Sam Falk the lone junior. Sophomore Brianna Janu, freshman Alex Guggisberg and seventh-grader Jenna Janu round out the team. Last year, Roering was the lone senior.
"When the older group of the girls were winning a few years ago, it drew in a lot of the younger players," said Minne-waska coach Peggy Falk. "And now there are a lot more of the younger girls playing than ever before. A lot of our players live on the golf course in Glenwood and they play a lot."
Minnewaska has several younger players coming up through the ranks that are developing into solid golfers. So how many more years can this dynastic streak continue?
"I think we have a good chance to win this year if everything works out and we play as well as we're capable of," said Falk. "Red Wing is going to be tough. We went to their tournament earlier this year and we shot 306 and they had a 308. So we know they are going to be good competition. And (Red Wing) will have everyone back next year so we have our work cut out for us."
As it stands, Sand Creek has become the Lakers' second home course in recent years. And there's nothing better than home cooking when you have a winning recipe.