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Nikki Torgerson, of St. Cloud Apollo, teed off on the first hole on the East Course at Bunker Hills Golf Course during the first day of the boys and 2011 state tournament. Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

The entire St. Cloud Apollo girls’ golf team made the trip to Coon Rapids on Tuesday for the Class 3A state tournament. Literally: all six members.

And as if being the only players on a team making its first-ever state appearance wasn’t enough to bring the six close together, these girls have quite the history.

Five of them — Hannah Erickson, Katie Kruchten, Madison Mack, Dani Torgerson and Nikki Torgerson — grew up in the same cul de sac. The other, Jenna Traut, lives about a mile away.

“But she’s still part of the ’hood,” Dani Torgerson said.

That comment drew a round of giggles from the group, which combined to shoot a four-player score of 358 (fifth place) in Day 1 of the tournament Tuesday at Bunker Hills.

This year’s Eagles team is the first at Apollo — boys’ or girls’ — to ever qualify for state. Up until this week, golfers at the school lived in the shadow of Samantha Sommers, who won three consecutive big-school individual state championships from 2005 to ’07.

Scores aside, they hope this year’s accomplishment brings in a new tradition to the school. It’s one being set by a group of girls that not too long ago was getting into neighborhood mischief by drawing on power boxes with permanent marker and running away to their grandparents’ house without permission.

“We wanted to make some history,” Kruchten said.

The accomplishment is extra special for Erickson, who was diagnosed with sclerosis two years ago and underwent major back surgery last August. She only started swinging again in December.

“It just shows that when you work hard after something unfortunate happens, you can really get somewhere with it,” she said.

Freshman leads girls


McKenzie Neisen

Moderate rainfall dampened the late afternoon of Day 1, or the back nine for many girls’ players. But they persevered and finished all 18 holes without interruption.

New Prague freshman McKenzie Neisen has the individual lead after her 2-under-par 71. She has a three-shot lead over Cretin-Derham Hall’s Grace Todora and Mary Sweeny of Woodbury.

“I’ll run through this round briefly in my head before [Wednesday] for confidence,” said Neisen, who finished tied for second last year. “I want to enjoy what I did, but I don’t want to think about it too much. That would get me pretty nervous.”

Wayzata (331) has a six-shot cushion over Stillwater in the team competition.

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