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Panthers missed out on main goals

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     The Park Rapids boys golf team fulfilled one goal but missed out on two others in Terry Schroeder’s first year as head coach.

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     The Panthers carded their best team score since 1998 with a 320 during the regular season, but missed out on achieving their other two goals of qualifying for the Mid-Minnesota Conference Championship and advancing to the Section 8AA tournament.

     In the first three tournaments, the Panthers finished seventh out of eight teams at the Detroit Lakes Invitational with a 335, fourth at the 16-team Longbow Invitational with a 354 and seventh at the 10-team United North Central Invitational at Blueberry Pines with a 376. Detroit Lakes led the field with a 277 on the par-64 course in the season opener and carded a 314 to lead the field at Longbow while Staples-Motley carded a 326 for first place at Blueberry Pines.

     Park Rapids played its best round of the season by winning the title at the 16-team Park Rapids Invitational at Headwaters Country Club with a 320. That was the Panthers’ lowest score since a 317 in 1998 and was the team’s first tournament title since winning the subsection meet in 2006.

     At the Mid-State Conference meet at Detroit Lakes Country Club, the Panthers finished third out of six teams with a 344. Detroit Lakes won the conference title with a 307.

     The Panthers ended the regular season by placing ninth at the 12-team Deacon’s Lodge Invitational with a 378 (Forest Lake took first with a 325) and taking eighth out of 11 teams at the East-West Classic by carding a 348 at Longbow and a 332 at Headwaters. Detroit Lakes took first with rounds of 307 and 313.

     In the four Mid-Minnesota Conference meets, the Panthers finished seventh out of eight teams at Blueberry Pines with a 488 and 21.5 points, sixth at The Vintage with a 453 and 25 points, third at The Preserve with a 436 and 39 points and sixth with a 496 and 25.5 points at Deacon’s Lodge. Park Rapids finished fifth in the team standings with 111 points to trail Crosby-Ironton’s 113.5 points for the final spot in the Mid-Minnesota Championship.

     Pequot Lakes won the first two conference meets with a 435 and 43 points at Blueberry Pines and a 410 and 48 points at The Vintage while Staples-Motley won the final two meets with a 413 and 46.5 points at The Preserve and a 440 and 42 points at Deacon’s Lodge. Pequot Lakes (167 points), Staples-Motley (163.5 points) and United North Central (120.5 points) joined C-I in the conference championship. Staples-Motley won the conference championship and ended up placing seventh at the state Class AA tournament.

     The Panthers ended the season by placing fifth out of eight teams at the Section 8AA North tournament with a 334. Crookston (314), Roseau (315) and East Grand Forks (324) earned the three berths to the section meet. Fergus Falls won the section title with a 310 and finished fifth at the state Class AA meet.

     Leading the Panthers this season were seniors Bailey Mueller, Dustin Bethel, Cody Brumbaugh, Ryan DeLaHunt and Zach Jewison; juniors Zach Hagen and Ethan Yliniemi; sophomores Wyatt Derman and Hunter Utke; and freshmen Jackson Leckner and Connor Shaw.

     Brumbaugh’s 78, Derman’s 80, Mueller’s 84 and Utke’s 93 led the Panthers in the season opener at Detroit Lakes while Derman’s 82, Bethel’s 85, Mueller’s 88 and Brumbaugh’s 99 led the Panthers in the first meet at Longbow. Mueller’s 85, Bethel’s 89, Brumbaugh’s 94 and Leckner’s 108 led the Panthers at Blueberry Pines.

     Mueller’s 76, Bethel’s 79, Brumbaugh’s 82 and 83s by Derman and Utke led the Panthers to a 320 at HCC. The Park Rapids’ B team carded a 420 behind Shaw’s 100, Hagen’s 103, Leckner’s 105 and Yliniemi’s 112.

     Brumbaugh earned Mid-State Conference honorable mention honors with an 85 while 86s by Mueller and Bethel and Derman’s 87 rounded out the Panthers’ team score. DeLaHunt’s 92, 95s by Derman and Utke, and a 96 by Bethel led the Panthers at Deacon’s Lodge.

     In the East-West Classic, a pair of 82s by Mueller and Derman, an 89 by Utke and 92s by Brumbaugh and Bethel led the Panthers at Longbow while Mueller’s 78, Brumbaugh’s 80, Bethel’s 84 and a pair of 90s by Derman and Utke led the Panthers at HCC.

     In Mid-Minnesota Conference play, Mueller (85), Bethel (89), Brumbaugh (94), Leckner (108) and Hagen (112) led the Panthers’ five-player score at Blueberry Pines while Mueller (74), Bethel (83), DeLaHunt (91), Utke (92) and Shaw (113) led the way at The Vintage. Mueller shared medalist honors with a career-best 73 while Bethel (86), Brumbaugh (92), DeLaHunt (92) and Utke (93) completed the team score at The Preserve. DeLaHunt (92), Derman (95), Utke (95), Bethel (96) and Shaw (116) led the Panthers at Deacon’s Lodge.

     Mueller and Bethel qualified as individuals for the Mid-Minnesota Conference Championship at the Preserve and both earned all-conference honors as Mueller finished third with a 79 and Bethel carded an 88.

     At the subsection meet, Mueller carded an 80 and Utke carded a season-best 83 to qualify for the section meet. Derman’s 84 and DeLaHunt’s season-best 87 rounded out the Panthers’ team score.

     Mueller carded an 88 and Utke carded a 104 at the section meet, which was suspended because of rain midway through the individual rounds and before the teams teed off. Mueller fell out of contention for a state berth by shooting 14-over par after the first 11 holes when the meet was suspended. Mueller shot 1-over par on the final seven holes the next day.

     Mueller led the Panthers with an 81.8 18-hole average in 12 meets. Derman finished with an 85.4 average in eight meets while Bethel had an 87.4 average in 11 meets. Brumbaugh finished with an 88.2 average in nine meets, Utke had a 92.2 average in 10 meets and DeLaHunt had a 95.1 average in nine meets.

     Shaw (106.3 average in four meets), Leckner (106.5 average in two meets), Hagen (110.0 average in four meets) and Jewison (125.0 average in four meets) also competed on varsity for the Panthers.

     “This year we relied heavily on our strong senior core of players and they did not disappoint. Highlights for the season included placing first at our home invite with a 320 and Bailey and Hunter representing the Panthers at the section meet,” said Schroeder. “I will truly miss the seniors. They were a great bunch of boys, dedicated and fun to coach. I can’t wait to see the potential of the freshmen, sophomores and juniors who showed strong improvement in our short season.”

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