Virginia hits a pair of aces

ONAMIA, Minn. -- Whipping winds and sideways rain surrounded tournament leader Casey Hill of Virginia-Mountain Iron-Buhl while walking down the 18th fairway Thursday.

ONAMIA, Minn. -- Whipping winds and sideways rain surrounded tournament leader Casey Hill of Virginia-Mountain Iron-Buhl while walking down the 18th fairway Thursday.

The nasty conditions provided the only drama on the final day of the Minnesota Class A high school boys tournament at Black Brook Golf Course at Izaty's Resort.

Hill, a junior, went on to win the individual title by three shots and his Blue Devils won the team title by a whopping 35 shots. It was the third state championship for the program and the first since 1976. It was also the first individual title since Richie Peterson of Virginia won in Class AA the same year.

After a 10-minute delay between the 17th and 18th holes, the rain continued and Hill promptly put his tee shot into foot-high rough and his third shot into a bunker. Hill managed a bogey and finished at 74-77--151, 7 over par. Pierz junior Robert Bell was second at 79-75--154.

"I could barely see the fairway and I went into the weeds," said Hill. "I was relieved to finish."


The Blue Devils jumped out to a 24-stroke lead after 18 holes Wednesday and then padded it for a 626 total on a day for impressive wins. Minnewaska took the girls championship by 47 shots over St. Cloud Cathedral.

Breck of Minneapolis was second in the boys event at 661 and Crookston was third with 666.

Besides Hill, Jared Miettunen, Matt Babinski and Dan Bidle shot in the 70s Wednesday for a combined 309. On Thursday, the Blue Devils used the scores of Miettunen, Casey Hill, Tyler Hill, Casey's older brother, and Brandon Olson for a 317.

"We counted every kid's score," said coach Kerry Bidle, whose team was third last year, one shot from second. "One through six can come through and it seems like it happens every tournament."

The Blue Devils have the professional look with pleated kakis, tucked-in polo shirts and bleach white hats. They replace their divots and fix their ball marks.

"Our philosophy is to be a class act," Bidle said. "We show appreciation to everyone involved at every meet for giving us the opportunity to play."

Virginia-MIB has looked classy while winning. The Blue Devils have won 17 straight meets, three straight Section 7A championships and six straight Iron Range Conference titles.

"Not once after we received a participation plaque [for fourth place in 2005] or when we missed out on second last year, was there one word from anyone about a state championship," Bidle said. "We knew it was our goal."


Casey Hill was two shots off the lead Wednesday after a 2-over 74 and used birdies on Nos. 6, 7, and 8 followed by pars on 9-12 Thursday to sit at even par.

"The greens looked like bushel baskets," Hill said. "I couldn't miss. After I shot a 36 [after nine holes], I knew I was in it."

After a bogey on 13 and a par on 14, Hill was told to speed up by a Minnesota Golf Association offical because of an approaching thunderstorm.

He then missed par putts on 16, 17 and 18, but good tee shots on the back nine allowed him to split the fairways or land firmly on the green.

"I didn't think we'd win by 35," said Hill. "I didn't think it would be that spread out. We were just better. We knew we had it in us."

Senior Andy Smith of Cook County placed ninth at 78-80--158.


Ely senior Kaytie Spangler used a birdie on the first hole to build a career-best 75 Thursday for a two-day total of 156 and place second in Class A girls behind record-setting Katie Detlefson of Minnehaha Academy.


"To see something like that is so rare," said Ely coach Rob Simonich of Spangler's final round. "Every shot, every step, she had so much confidence."

Detlefson shot 71-73--144 to become the first four-time state champion, girl or boy, in state history. She set the girls tournament record of 140 last year.

Yet, Spangler, who shot 81 Wednesday, tried to ignore Detlefson's gallery and her personal-record tally.

"I was talking to Kerry [Bidle] last night and he said you can't add up your score while you play, otherwise you'll blow it, so I tried not to, but I knew I was playing well," Spangler said.

Spangler, who finished 34th last year, was Ely's first state qualifier since 1967.

The Duluth Marshall girls were third in the Class A team standings, led by senior Lisa Moline, 15th at 83-88--171, nearly matching her 14th-place finish in 2006.

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