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Cretin Derham Hall's Celia Kuenster, a top player this season, teed off from the first hole during the Class 3A high school golf tournament final round llast June at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids Photo: ELIZABETH FLORES/STAR TRIBUNE

Champion in a class of her own

Cretin-Derham Hall junior Celia Kuenster is looking to become the third three-time girls’ champion in the large-school ranks. Kuenster shared the title in 2011 before shooting a state-tournament record 3-under-par 141 en route to the Class 3A crown a year ago. The other three-time champions were Jody Rosenthal of Hopkins Eisenhower/Lindbergh from 1979-81 in Class 2A and Samantha Sommers of St. Cloud Apollo from 2005-07 in Class 2A. There never has been a four-time champion in the large-school division. There have been three classes in the state tournament for the past five years.

 Good group on the chase

Kuenster will have to be at her best to hold on to her crown. McKenzie Neisen of New Prague, also a junior, was the state runner-up a year ago with a 1-under-par 143. Six girls are juniors who finished in the top 13 at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids in 2012. Three others are seniors this year. There should be no shortage of depth in the state tournament field in June.

 Wide-open boys’ field

Picking the Class 3A boys’ individual state champion continues to be a challenge. Lakeville North junior Freddy Thomas finished third a year ago and Waconia senior Matt Rachey took fourth. They are the only two returning golfers who finished in the top nine in 2012. Thirty of the top 55 from last year’s field have graduated. There has not been a repeat champion in Class 3A in the past five years.

RON HAGGSTROM

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