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Jirele wins state tournament

Steele County Times - Staff Photo - Create Article
Jirele admires a shot on the ninth hole. She said that the mindset that there was “so much more golf to be played” helped her get through her struggles on the front nine to turn her day around. Staff photo by Johnnie Phillips
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor

Owatonna’s Carmen Jirele had two rounds to remember at the Class AAA state tournament last week in Coon Rapids winning the state individual title with a final score of 142.

The sophomore ended the first day of the tournament with the lead after shooting three strokes under par, giving her a two-stroke lead over the second place before holding on to win by one.

“The first day I started pretty nice, so I was already feeling good about how the round was going. Coming into the second day, I just wanted to stay cool and calm and stay in the competition. The front nine was tough, but after that I calmed down and started to take it shot-by-shot,” said Jirele.

Jirele’s first round could not have started any better after she shot two under on the front nine with birdies on the par-four second hole and a par-three seventh.

The back nine was hardly any different as she birdied the 10th and 11th to quickly rise to four under and build a multi-stroke lead.

The only blemish on Jirele’s scorecard came on the par-three 17th where she recorded a four to end the day three under.

Day two seemed to be off to another fast start after a birdie on the fourth hole, but a tough stretch of holes followed.

Jirele’s lead was hampered greatly after she bogeyed holes 6-8 to move her back down to two under - now leading by just one stroke.

However, the sophomore handled the pressure of her lead and the masses following her by not letting the heat of the moment get to her head.

“It was kind of crazy to see the amount of people there on the first hole. I didn’t think that they were all going to follow us, but then they did… I did get a little frustrated when I had those three bogeys in a row, but I knew there was so much more golf to play,” said Jirele.

Jirele went on to finish the back nine by shooting one under par to close her scoring at 142 strokes or two under par for the tournament.

She finished her final round in second place trailing only Maple Grove’s Amelia Morton who held a one-stroke lead.

However, Morton went on to triple bogey on the 16th to drop her cumulative score to even on the day, forcing her to have to eagle the final hole to tie Jirele’s score at -2.

Jirele was confirmed as the state title winner after Morton was unable to accomplish the feat.

The win marked a huge jump for Jirele after having competed in the tournament for the past two years.

It was also a memorable moment for Jirele to share with her coach, Jason Kaytor, and her teammates.

“It was great. Coach Kaytor has had such an amazing year. His daughter made all-conference this year, and now for this win, it’s been a great year all around. I want to thank all my family and also my friend, Paige Thompson. She’s one of my closest friends and teammates, and hopefully next year we can go to state together,” said Jirele.

In 2022, Jirele placed 58th as an eighth-grader and in 2023, she placed 34th as a freshman.

According to her, the goal was to break the top five or seven, making the win all the sweeter.

She will now have two more seasons of eligibility to compete and defend her title.

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