PREP GOLF PREVIEWS: Tiger, Spartan golfers teeing up for state runs
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Snow and soggy turf won’t hold up the high school boys golf season this year. Area golf courses have been open for weeks and are already in prime condition to start the season.
At Northwestern High School, seniors Justin Alexson and Gabe Dinkel return with hopes of leading the Tigers back to the WIAA Division 2 state meet.
Both Alexson and Dinkel were freshmen on the NHS varsity squad the last time the Tigers advanced to state as a team.
The Superior boys, coming off back-to-back team trips to state, are looking to continue their program’s strong showing in recent years.
They began their season Monday with a fourth-place finish in the Hudson Invitational.
Ryan Teal enters his first season as head coach of the Tigers, taking over from longtime coach Gary Swanson.
The Tigers went 14-0 in Heart O’ North Conference play last season and finished first at the conference meet to claim the HON title.
In WIAA play, the Tigers finished fourth at regionals and advanced to sectionals, where they placed sixth as a team.
This year, Teal is looking forward to another successful season for the Tigers.
“We only lost one senior (Ian Lattery),” Teal said. “The team is full of talent and experience.”
Seniors Dinkel and Alexson are the top golfers returning for Northwestern. Both competed in the state meet as freshmen when the Tigers advanced as a team, and Dinkel also advanced to state as in individual in 2010. Alexson missed a return trip to state by two strokes that year.
Last year, it was Dinkel who just missed a trip to state. He finished play at sectionals in a four-way tie for fourth place. Only two in the group of four could advance to state, and in a playoff, Dinkel battled with Austin Byl of Amery for three holes before falling by one stroke.
Alexson and Dinkel have finished first and second in HON Conference for the past two seasons, and the duo is expected to compete for the top spot again this year.
Also returning from last year’s varsity team are juniors Peter Lindsay and Grant Pearson.
“I’m picking NHS to be on top of the conference because of the talent, experience and depth we have,” Teal said.
“Also, the year-round dedication to their golf game is evidence of their drive and commitment to team and individual success.”
Dennis Scherz is the Tigers assistant coach this year.
Superior returns three golfers from its 2011 state-qualifying team, but the Spartans are without their No. 1 golfer from last season, Rob Kraft.
Kraft, currently golfing for Mankato State, was a four-year letter-winner for the Spartans. SHS coach Dan Schulz said it won’t be easy to fill the leadership void left by the 2011 SHS graduate, but the team is ready to try.
“Recent success has heightened expectations, and our student-athletes have accepted the challenge by realizing the amount of time, commitment to teammates and disciplined work ethic on the range it takes to attain our team goals,” Schulz said.
Schulz begins his fourth season as head coach of the boys golf team.
The Spartans finished fourth in the Lake Superior Conference standings last year and then rolled through the playoffs to qualify for the Wisconsin state tournament.
Returning from last year’s team are seniors Chris Rochon and Blake Johnson, and junior Spencer Sitek. Senior Nolan Holcombe, sophomore Paxton Paine and freshman Daniel Burger will round out Superior’s top varsity golfers.
Schulz said this year’s Spartans are young but added that the players are improving on a daily basis and recognize the importance of course management.
“I’ve never really been concerned with preseason rankings in any sport or for any of the teams I’ve coached here at SHS,” Schulz said. “We are focusing on where we are at the moment and focused on improving our skills in order to prepare ourselves for competition.”
Andy Heytens, Brad Larson and Tyler Austreng are serving as assistant coaches this season.
Superior High School
2012 Boys Golf Schedule
Head Coach: Dan Schulz
Mon., April 9 at Hudson Invite, 9 a.m.
Wed., April 18 at Barron Invite, 9 a.m.
Sat., April 21 at Chippewa Falls Invite, 8:30 a.m.
Mon., April 23 at Eau Claire Memorial Invite, 10 a.m.
Fri., April 27 at Grand Slam, noon
Sat., April 28 at Grand Slam, 8 a.m.
Mon., April 30 at Cloquet Invite, 10 a.m.
Wed., May 02 Nemadji Invite, 11 a.m.
Fri., May 04 at Hayward Scott Miller, 1 p.m.
Sat., May 05 at Hayward Scott Miller, 9 a.m.
Mon., May 07 at Wilderness Invite, 11 a.m.
Wed., May 09 LSC at Ashland, noon
Thur., May 10 at Rice Lake Invite, 9 a.m.
Fri., May 11 at Northern/Quarry Invite, TBD
Sat., May 12 at Northern/Quarry Invite, noon
Tue., May 15 LSC Championship, noon
Fri., May 18 at Virginia Invitational, 9 a.m.
Mon., May 21 at Northland Invite, 9 a.m.
Tue., May 22 WIAA Regional at Hudson, 10:30 a.m.
Tue., May 29 WIAA Sectional DC Everest
June 4-5 at Madison