Golf: Wingers back in the swing of things
For seven consecutive years, Red Wing has won the section championship and represented Section 1 at the girls golf state tournament.
And with the loss of just one senior – albeit a pivotal member of the team – the Wingers could be looking at another section title. After all, the loss of two seniors prior to 2013 still saw the Wingers end up fourth at state, the same spot Red Wing claimed a year prior.
“We have a really experienced team back,” said Wingers head coach Mark Herzog. “We should have a good team, and there are a lot of good teams in our section this year, and in our conference. Last year we were second in (the Missota) Conference to New Prague, and I’m sure they’re the favorites with everyone back.”
Last year, Stephanie Herzog and Nicole Schammel led Red Wing with identical scoring averages of 80. Stephanie broke the tie with a 159 at the two-day section tournament, six shots better than Schammel’s second-place total of 165. The state tournament was similar with Herzog carding a 157 to Schammel’s 168.
But to get back to state, the Wingers will face a different path.
Red Wing, the Section 1AAA champion the past two years, is now a member of Class 2A. That means Lake City, the state entrant from Section 1AA in 2013, and Stewartville are now standing in the way of an eighth straight section title for the Wingers.
“I think Lake City has a little more experience than we do, and a little more depth than we do, too,” Herzog said.
Freshman Stephanie Herzog, whose 159 earned medalist honors at the section meet last year, returns to the top of the lineup along with Schammel, Kayla Oberding, Reagan Haley and Solveig Christenson.
Pushing those players is a talented group of underclassmen led by seventh-graders Sophie Yoemans and Leah Herzog, as well as sophomore Madeline Sonju.
“They might have the inside track on the No. 6 spot, those three girls, just because they played a lot of golf last summer,” Mark Herzog said. “And there are a couple other girls that could (challenge for the sixth spot). Maddie Hardyman, she didn’t get out in the summer, but she played in the spring. Ingird Olson and Veronica Kingston (along with Hardyman), they’ve been on the team for (a few years). They played a short season, so I didn’t see enough of them … . But they’ll have a shot at it, too. And if any of those girls start shooting 85, 86, who knows how far they could climb on the team.”
The Wingers’ season-opener against Hill-Murray, scheduled for today, has been postponed until Tuesday April 15. Herzog said he hopes to see the two courses in Red Wing open this weekend, which would allow the Wingers some practice time before the Pioneers come to town. Red Wing will also host the Early Bird Invite on April 17 at Mississippi National Golf Links.
After a sixth-place finish in the Section 1AAA tournament, the Red Wing boys golf team enters the 2014 season with some question marks. But head coach Lee Kinney boasts a roster that features an A-Z list of answers. The only problem? Finding out exactly what combination of golfers will fill out the lineup on any given day.
“What dictates your lineup is actual performance,” said Kinney, adding that differentiating varsity and JV golfers often comes down to the scorecard.
“With that said, without being outside, that’s difficult to do,” Kinney continued. “So, initially, for our first matches, we’re going to go with returning players that we have a better knowledge of their abilities and capabilities, and what they’ve done in the past.”
But those decisions won’t be nearly as challenging as the obstacles Kinney and the Wingers faced in 2013. With 17 inches of snow piling on what was already a late start for the team, Kinney, a first-year head coach in 2013, had to do more than many coaches have to do in their initial season.
“It was a unique challenge last year,” Kinney said. “We had some great kids. Our captains, Taylor Hanson and Jack Gorman, did a fabulous job in coaching us as coaches. They were a big help last year.
“In 2014, we’re seasoned coaches now,” Kinney continued. “And, again, we’re challenged with this later spring. … But, I tell you what, we have some great captains again this year in Andrew Petterson and Zach Sachen.”
Likely joining the senior captains in the lineup, at least early on, are classmates Evan Morem and John Wedrickas, as well as sophomore Fritz Belisle.
But, Kinney noted, the lineup could change as the Wingers get a chance to prove themselves on the course, and not in a gymnasium with a net stopping every shot after five feet.
Where 2014 takes Red Wing will flesh out as the season moves along. But the foundation built last year by Kinney, Hanson and Gorman should be strengthened by another notch in the coaching belt and a strong senior class. That should bode well for a program that is deep in numbers, and, in the lower grades, an abundance of talent that might not be far off.
“The greatest thing we have is a young contingent that has got some serious talent that will propel the Wingers very far forward in the coming years,” Kinney said. “The future of Red Wing Winger boys golf looks very good.”