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Jun. 19—Personal cell phones and social media didn’t exist when Steve Randgaard began coaching golf at Lake City 35 years ago.

But as Randgaard watched his players celebrate on Wednesday by taking selfies and posting short video clips to their social media accounts, Randgaard couldn’t help but think about how far the Tigers’ program has come.

“That’s the one for TikTok,” Randgaard told a group of Lake City parents with a laugh as he watched the Tigers’ girls golfers pass around the Class AA state championship trophy. “They like TikTok. I’ve learned a bunch of new songs on this trip.”

—Girls golf state meet roundup: Lake City’s time has arrived; Tigers win Class AA championship

—Boys golf state meet roundup: PIZM puts two in top 10, places 5th as team

There’s no word on if Randgaard will create his own TikTok account, but like his players, he left The Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan with a blue medal around his neck.

For the first time in program history, Lake City left the state meet with the championship trophy.

“It’s been a long road,” Randgaard said. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years now. We’ve had three (state) runners-up, but never the big one.

“This year we really put it together, with a young team, too. The composure these kids have when they’re out there playing, it’s a really good group. They’re always grinders. They came ready to play (this week).”

Admittedly, there were times when Randgaard wondered if the moment he and his players savored on Wednesday would ever come. So many times, Lake City has had teams that were talented enough to claim state titles, only to find other powerhouse programs — from Red Wing and Caledonia in Section 1, to Detroit Lakes and others at the state level — blocking their path.

“It did cross my mind,” Randgaard said. “I was wondering if we’d ever get one, to be honest.

“I knew this team and the young kids we have … I didn’t know if it was going to be this year or not. I knew we’d be in contention, but I couldn’t say we’d have an undefeated season like this. That was really a special part of it.”

Randgaard’s ability to connect with young golfers is a big reason why the Tigers finally broke through, winning the program’s first championship in its seventh state-meet appearance.

The Tigers’ top two scorers at this week’s state meet were freshmen, Jordana Windhorst Knudsen (who finished second, shooting 75-82—157) and Ella Matzke (10th, 88-80—168). Randgaard has worked with both of them for as long as he — and they — can remember.

“They’re special, those two,” he said. “I had them back in lessons when they were in first grade and I could see they had potential, even back then. I’ve been working with them ever since, and so have so many other people, too. Even back then they had nice little swings and really enjoyed the game.”

The state championship was a group effort, with the Tigers shooting a season-best 330 in Wednesday’s final round. Five of their six golfers improved their scores from the first round to the final round, including the team’s lone senior, Molly Kennedy, who tied for 17th place (89-84—173).

Lake City’s top four golfers finished in the top 20, as sophomore Emma Berge (91-84—175) tied for 20th.

“Molly, she’s definitely the leader of the team, gets them all organized,” Randgaard said. “She’s been a great player for us the past four years on our varsity.

“I know they were all mentally exhausted by the time they finished (Wednesday). They practiced hard this past week. They had a lot on their plates, but they handled it really well.”

Those players could also see how much a state championship means to their coach, someone who has given so much to them and the program over the past three-plus decades.

“He’s excited,” Kennedy said Wednesday afternoon. “As we were walking down 18, he looked and said ‘I’ve never had this feeling before.'”