HIBBING — Maria Gherardi has experienced the high of making it to state, and the low of coming up just short.
Those memories served her well this season as the Hibbing High School senior will be teeing off at the State Class AA Meet, which begins Tuesday at the Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan.
For Gherardi, who is scheduled to tee off at around 1 p.m., this is one last chance to shine in her high-school career, but it didn’t come easy.
She advanced to state as a sophomore, but during her junior season, the dream of repeating that appearance didn’t materialize.
“It was a little bit of a letdown,” Gherardi said. “It was a little disappointing, but I was still happy that I made it in the 10th-grade. I’m glad I had the experience.”
Was it really that easy to shake off? Not really. Deep down, Gherardi wanted a return trip to state, so she set out to do that during the 2019 regular season.
“I stayed after practice a little longer to putt and chip,” Gherardi said. “I hit a few more balls on the range. I golfed a few more holes.”
All of that almost came crashing down when Gherardi opened the first day of the Section 7AA Meet with a 97, but that was good enough to get her back into day two of the meet.
But was it going to be good enough to get her state?
“I knew I had to golf a lot better,” Gherardi said. “There was a chance, but I had to golf one of my best scores.”
The key for Gherardi was putting that round in the past.
That’s exactly what she did. She shot 10 strokes better on the front nine during the second day of the event, finishing with an 86.
Now, the wait was on.
“I tried to stay calm, relaxed and focused on my game,” Gherardi said. “I took it one shot at a time. I forgot every shot and focused on my next shot. There wasn’t anything I could do about the bad shots. I focused on it one swing at a time.
“It (the wait) wasn’t too bad, but it gives you more time to let it get into your head. (When I found out I had made it) it was awesome. I felt like I accomplished something. There’s no better way to end senior season.”
Now, the challenge of the Ridges of Sand Creek stands before Gherardi. She said she doesn’t remember too much about the course, but she did have a practice round Monday.
She’ll keep in-depth notes on what clubs to hit where.
“That’s important, especially for sections,” Gherardi said. “I had the little booklet, and I referred to it on every hole. That made what club I chose the right one. On some holes, I can hit my driver, and some I can’t. I have to figure out what clubs I can hit on certain holes.
“I’m happy there’s a practice round. That will help a lot.”
There’s one problem with that. Gherardi said she hasn’t been hitting her driver well as of late, so she’s going to have to make some tough decisions when it comes to taking that club out of her golf bag.
“I know that I’m confident with my next club down,” Gherardi said. “If I know it’s not going well at the beginning, I have a backup club I can trust.”
Gherardi is also looking forward to teeing it up with other talented golfers.
“That will be fun,” Gherardi said. “I get to see new people. That will be a cool experience. That makes me play better. This is my last chance to do something in a high-school sport. I want to give it my all, and not leave anything on the course.”