Following the Minot Invitational Tuesday afternoon, Minot High girls golf coach Scott Foltz parked himself on a chair in the Roughrider Golf Course clubhouse, revealing a beaming grin.
He couldn't wipe the smile from his face.
"Not many people get this excited about a fourth-place finish," Foltz said. "We've been building to this. We needed this."
Minot High junior McKinley Bender sinks a putt on the 17th hole Tuesday afternoon during the Minot Invitational at Roughrider Golf Course. Bender and freshman teammate Paige Argent shot 90s to score a sixth-place tie. The Majettes finished in fourth place out of eight teams.
The Majettes turned in a season-best 375 - 21 strokes better than their previous low score - for their first top-half finish of the year.
MHS junior McKinley Bender and freshman Paige Argent each shot 90s to end in a four-way tie for sixth. Argent and senior Hallie Williamson, who finished 10th with a 93, recorded personal bests.
Century carded a 343 to take home its third straight win and Dickinson senior Rachel Jahner secured medalist honors with a 6-over-par 76.
Foltz said he was "impressed" with the way his team played, attributing part of the Majettes' success to familiarity with the course.
"We've played a lot on this course and the kids have put in a lot of time here," he said. "We were getting on the green in regulation, the kids were putting well. They seemed to really like the speed of the greens today."
MHS will not compete again at Roughrider this season, which has served as its home away from home since the 2011 Souris River flood. Foltz said his players have had great results there, but the challenge will be to duplicate that success elsewhere.
"We need to take the lessons we've learned at this course this week and we need to apply them next week to Dickinson and to Tom O'Leary (in Bismarck) and have confidence that we're a good team," he said.
Bender said with a young, inexperienced team - one senior, one junior, three freshman and an eighth-grader - progress has come slowly this year.
"It's definitely a growing process every time," she said.
That slow-but-sure progress has the Majettes on track to reach their season goal: to finish in the top five of the West Region and qualify for the state tournament.
MHS has reached state for 11 consecutive years. Had Tuesday's invitational been the West Region tournament, the Majettes' fourth-place finish would've been good for a state tournament berth.
"We're on the right track," Foltz said. "We made a big jump today."
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignment. Follow him on