Panthers tee up promising future
Jim Weinzierl knew this would be a rebuilding year for the Park Rapids boys golf team.
Of the 16 varsity golfers, there were no seniors and only five had limited varsity experience. That made it tough to compete against most of the teams in the area.
On the positive side, the Panthers showed improvement each meet, capping the season with a 378 at the North Subsection 8AA meet.
"This was a rebuilding year," said Weinzierl. "We didn't have any seniors, but we had a great group of kids to work with. The kids worked hard and improved a lot."
The Panthers started the season by carding a 408 to place ninth at the Detroit Lakes Invitational and shot a 448 to finish 13th at the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Invitational at Longbow. The host Lakers shot a 321 to top the nine-team field at Detroit Lakes while Warroad carded a 329 to lead the pack at the 14-team W-H-A meet.
Park Rapids carded a 395 to finish 12th at the Pequot Lakes Invitational at The Preserve and followed with a 378 to finish ninth at the United North Central Invitational at Blueberry Pines. Pequot Lakes carded a 329 to top the 13-team field on its home course while Staples-Motley shot a 330 to win the title at the 12-team UNC meet.
Roseau shot a 308 to win the title at the 19-team Bagley/Fosston Invitational as the Panthers finished 19th with a 432. Park Rapids finished 11th at the 12-team Deacon's Lodge Invitational with a 391. Staples-Motley took first with a 312.
At the Nevis Invitational at Bear's Den, the Panthers finished 10th with a 431. Staples-Motley topped the 10-team field with a 303.
The Panthers ended the season by carding three straight rounds under 400.
At the Mid-State Conference meet, the Panthers finished sixth with a 381 as Detroit Lakes led the way with a 332. At the Thief River Falls Invitational, the Panthers carded a 399 to finish 16th out of 17 teams. Roseau and Warroad carded 313s to lead the field.
Park Rapids returned to Thief River Falls for the North Subsection 8AA meet and carded a 378 to finish sixth out of seven teams. Roseau won the subsection title with a 320.
In the four Mid-Minnesota Conference meets, the Panthers finished fourth with 62.5 points. Pequot Lakes finished first with 187 points.
Leading the Panthers this season were the 12 letterwinners: juniors Ryan O'Mara, Alex Holmen, Tony Schmid, Gairett Johnson, Sam Cole, Cody Larson and Ben Breitweser; and freshmen Sam Coborn, Cole Tretbar, Eddie Carlson, Sam Goebel and Zach O'Hern. Schmid and Coborn served as co-captains this season.
Of that group, O'Mara played in six invitational meets, Holmen played in four invitational meets, Johnson played in three invitational meets, and Coborn and Tretbar played in one invitational meet last season.
Coborn, who carded a 106 in his only varsity appearance last season, led the Panthers with a 47.25 nine-hole average this season. Coborn played in 12 meets with a low round of 84 at Blueberry Pines. Coborn shot an 88 at the Mid-State meet and an 87 at the subsection meet to miss advancing to the section meet by one shot.
O'Mara, who had a low round of 91 last season, was second on the team with a 48.75 average in eight rounds. O'Mara carded a season-best 90 at the Mid-State meet and shot a 93 at the subsection meet.
Holmen was third on the team in scoring average with a 49.20 in 10 rounds. Holmen, who carded a 100 for his best round last season, shot an 87 at The Preserve.
Tretbar, who carded a 110 in his only varsity appearance last season, finished with a 51.08 average in 12 nine-hole rounds. Tretbar shot a 99 at the Mid-State meet and had a season-best 94 at the subsection meet.
Schmid also played 12 rounds, finishing with a 53.00 average. Schmid had a season best 99 at Bagley/Fosston and Thief River Falls and capped off the season with a 104 at the subsection meet.
Johnson, whose best round was a 102 last season, played eight rounds this spring and had a 54.25 average, highlighted by a 104 at the Mid-State meet. Johnson shot a 113 at the subsection meet.
Carlson carded a 106 at the subsection meet and had a season-best 101 at Bear's Den. Carlson played eight rounds, finishing with a 54.75 average.
Goebel had a 55.62 average in eight rounds, highlighted by a 107 at Blueberry Pines.
O'Hern played six rounds and finished with a 58.33 average, led by a 100 at Bear's Den.
Cole played six rounds and had a 64.80 average with a season best of 110.
Larson also played six rounds and had a 65.83 average with a best of 116.
Breitweser rounded out the list of letterwinners with a best round of 142 and an average of 78.00 in six meets.
Sophomores Jason Dennis, Jake Froelich and Luke Swenson and freshman Levi Stevenson also saw some varsity action this spring.
The experience gained by this year's group should pay dividends next season. The returning players will also have some incentive since Headwaters Country Club will be the host for the subsection meet next spring.
"I'm looking forward to next year. We have everybody back and we're going to be much more competitive," said Weinzierl. "We're going to raise the bar next year. I'm expecting us to be a contender on our home course at the subsection tournament. Hopefully these kids will play a lot over the summer and we can compete for spots in the section tournament."