With Wayzata out of the mix at Bunker Hills this week, new hands are guaranteed to hold the Class 3A boys' golf team trophy for the first time in three seasons.
Minnetonka, which unseated the Trojans in Section 6, is considered one of the favorites of a wide-open field that begins play Tuesday morning in Coon Rapids.
"We knew we had the talent," Skippers coach John Coatta said.
Minnetonka shot a team total of 298 in the first round of the section meet at Ridges of Sand Creek in Jordan, 6 strokes better than the Trojans. Wayzata improved its team score by 14 strokes on Day 2. But the Skippers went even lower, improving their mark by 10.
"We knew Wayzata was going to play their best golf and come at us, and they did," Coatta said. "It's fun for us not only to win but to win it against somebody else's best game is pretty amazing.
"We talked about it all year long, we felt like we were as good as Wayzata as far as playing the game. But golf is such a mental thing."
Rogers shared the team trophy with Wayzata last season and returns this spring with armloads of experience.
Senior Corey Muenzhuber of Rogers is back for his fourth state tournament after qualifying as an individual as a freshman and with the team each of the past three seasons. He finished in a tie for ninth overall last year. Earlier this spring he won the talent-loaded, 20-team Tri State invitational.
Teammates Jordan Rykal and Morgan Rask are playing in their third state tournament.
"We're pretty confident," Royals coach Dan Bursheim said. "But, you know, it's all about going out and just playing your game. I think just coming home with a trophy would be great."
Chanhassen's boys' golf team, a first-time state entrant, got out to Bunker Hills early Monday morning for a practice round to survey the tight, tree-lined course.
"They're OK with it," Storm coach Tony Happ said. "The guys are excited to get out there again."
Champs back for more
The defending individual champions in both boys' and girls' Class 3A will try to repeat: Forest Lake's Max Kelly and girls' co-champions Cassie Deeg of Stillwater and Celia Kuenster of Cretin-Derham Hall.
Kuenster is one of four sophomores back after top-10 finishes last year, joining New Prague's McKenzie Neisen (fourth), Wayzata's Sarah Burnham (fifth), and Buffalo's Lexi Bollant (seventh).
The only other defending individual state champion returning is Max Deutz of Marshall in Class 2A.
Wide-eyed in 1A
The boys' Class 1A field couldn't be much fresher.
None of the eight teams that qualified to compete at Pebble Creek in Becker played in last year's championship. What's more, Legacy Christian Academy, Mille Lacs, Murray County Central and Wabasha-Kellogg are making their debut appearances.
All three classes of boys' and girls' play are set for Tuesday and Wednesday. In years past, Class 2A and 1A had been held Wednesday and Thursday.