Golf: Red Wing tries to find the right mix
This year’s lineup is a dichotomy Red Wing girls’ golf coach Mark Herzog isn’t used to. The longtime head coach has both his most experienced lineup, followed by his most inexperienced lineup.
Leading the helm for the Winger girls is senior Stephanie Herzog, followed by sophomores Sophia Yoemans and Leah Herzog. Stephanie and Yoemans have been on varsity since seventh grade while Leah made the cut as an eighth-grader.
“You’re not going to get too many strokes down from Sophia and Stephanie. They can be better golfers and get only one shot off,” Mark said. “But they’re better than they were last year, all three of them.”
Beyond the top three, that’s where the Wingers have some sorting out to do as they try to reclaim the Section 1AAA title and hopefully climb higher at state after taking third as a team a year ago.
“We hope those three can play like they did last year and make a little progress,” Mark said. “We have a lot of unknowns from four, five and six. We’ll have a little bit of drop-off with Solveig (Christenson) playing five years for us. She averaged 80-to-82 and it’s unrealistic for the four, five or six to be up there. I’m hoping our fourth score can get close to bogey, around 90.”
There will be plenty of players to choose from for those final three spots as seniors Emily Otteson and Anika Nybo, junior Kendal Swanson, sophomore Emma Lundgren, freshman Sydney Flack and eighth-grader Ava Bremseth all vie for the varsity spots.
During team practice, Mark has made a point to pair an inexperienced player with someone in the top three in an effort to get everyone up to speed.
“Just seeing that they also hit some bad shots, too, that helps. And it helps inspire them to improve,” Mark said. “We’re trying to identify a few kids that can make that jump.”
Like the girls, the Winger boys return the top three golfers from last spring. Leading the pack is sophomore Cecil Belisle, fresh off a third-place showing at last year’s Class 2A state tournament. Behind Belisle are senior Spencer Kronbeck and sophomore Mac DeSutter.
“Cecil, Spencer and Mac have all improved a little bit, which is to be expected as they get older,” said Red Wing boys head coach Nate Gale. “Cecil and Mac, they’ve grown, they’ve gotten stronger, so their games have changed a lot because they’ve gotten bigger.”
Now, there’s the matter of the final three, which will be an ongoing battle between four golfers in senior Drew Bjorngaard, juniors Luke Knudsen and Drew Siewert and sophomore Michael Stoffel.
“They’ve put together some good rounds in practice,” Gale said. “As a whole, we have a little deeper team. Now there’ll be more competition in those spots. We can put guys in and out and it’ll make for a more competitive atmosphere in practice.”
And, it’ll hopefully make for a team trip to state for Red Wing after taking second in the Section 1AA championship last year.
“Our expectations are different now,” Gale said. “The first year I was coaching, we did not make the cut as a team after the first day of sections. Then last year, we missed state by six shots as a team. This year, the goal is state as a team. Cecil's had the individual success, but we would like to go as a team by putting two days together.”