The Marinette Marine golf team jumps for joy after winning the Little Chute Regional title Wednesday at Mid-Vallee Golf Course. Coach Stephanie Haines is in front. Team members are, from left, Liz Lang, Lexi Bretl, Abby Dufrane, Cassie Hilbert, Kayla Thielen and Hallie Olsen. <br><i>EagleHerald/Jody Korch</i>
The Marinette Marine golf team jumps for joy after winning the Little Chute Regional title Wednesday at Mid-Vallee Golf Course. Coach Stephanie Haines is in front. Team members are, from left, Liz Lang, Lexi Bretl, Abby Dufrane, Cassie Hilbert, Kayla Thielen and Hallie Olsen.
EagleHerald/Jody Korch
DE PERE, Wis. - How's this for a bounce-back performance by the Marinette girls' golf team?

Eight days after agonizing over the end of their six-year reign atop the Bay Conference, the Marines won the WIAA Division 2 Little Chute Regional.

They did it with an incredible 339 score that is believed to be the best 18-hole score in the long, successful history of Marine girls' golf.

"This feels sooo good," Marine senior Abby Dufrane said. "It erases everything that's been in the back of my mind."

The top four teams and top three individuals not members of those four teams advanced to sectionals. Fox Valley Lutheran, which is ranked No. 2 in the Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin state poll, finished one stroke behind Marinette. Fourth-ranked Xavier was third with a 355. Freedom (368) earned the other sectional-qualifying spot at Mid-Vallee Golf Course.

Marine coach Stephanie Haines was confident her team would advance, but wasn't expecting the team's third straight regional title.

"I can't explain it," she said. "They love playing this course, even though it is one of the tighter courses."

Dufrane shot a 1-over-par 73 to lead the Marines. She birdied the Par 4 ninth and the Par 5 11th. Her tee shot on the Par 3 17th found water. Undaunted, her third shot stopped 4 feet from the cup, and she salvaged a bogey.

"Everything just flowed," Dufrane said. "I think it (the course) just fits me. I love the speed of the greens. It just is so playable. I think it showed today it was extremely playable."

As a freshman last season, Kayla Thielen had nine-hole rounds in the 50s and 60s. Her scores have been falling faster than the sweet, blemish-free apples that her older brother, Brad, shook off a tree on Mid-Vallee's seventh hole.

After scoring her best-ever nine-hole round of 42 on the front nine, Thielen carded a 39 after the turn.

"I played fun, I played relaxed," Thielen said.

Thielen's 81 score was the third-best of the tourney and was her best 18-hole round by 11 shots.

"You put the time in, and you get results," Haines said. "That's what Kayla does."

On the Par 4 18th, Thielen holed a 58-degree wedge shot from about 30 yards out to finish with a birdie.

"Just a nice, easy swing, and it just rolled right in," she said.

It was that kind of day for the Marines, a far cry from last week's disappointment at the conference tourney.

"I think we were more prepared," Thielen said. "We had more in the mindset to win. Just as much nerves, but we handled them better."

Junior Cassie Hilbert also excelled with her best-ever round, an 86, to place sixth overall. Sophomore Lexi Bretl's 99 tied the final individual sectional-qualifying score.

Liz Lang, who shot a 105, has come a long way, too.

"Knowing that they did so well makes me so proud of them," said Dufrane, the team's only senior.

Only two teams will earn state-qualifying berths at the Denmark Sectional, to be held Tuesday at Twin Oaks Golf Course.

"We've been practicing like crazy since conference because they want to go to state," Haines said. "That is their goal. I've been so impressed with how they're practicing. They're self-motivated."

Team scores: Marinette 339, Fox Valley Lutheran 340, Xavier 355, Freedom 368, Little Chute 398, Wrightstown 404, Oconto Falls 422, Bonduel 427, Oconto 441

Marine girls: Abby Dufrane 37-36 - 73, Kayla Thielen 42-39 - 81, Cassie Hilbert 41-45 - 86, Lexi Bretl 47-52 - 99, Liz Lang 51-54 - 105

Individual sectional qualifiers: Cora Wittmann (LC) 88, Victoria Draxler (Wr) 89, Sara KaFreniere (Wr) 98, Kaitlyn Plutz (LC) 99