Park Rapids boys seek trip to section meet, state qualifiers
Even with a shortened season, Tadd Usher has some lofty goals for the Park Rapids boys golf team this spring.
Having the top seven golfers returning from last season is the main reason Usher is counting on the Panthers to return to the Mid-Minnesota Conference Championship, card a round under 320 and earn a spot in the Section 8AA tournament.
Being counted on to help the Panthers once again peak at the end of the season and achieve those goals are senior Ian Johnson; juniors Bailey Mueller, Jamie Stewart, Dustin Bethel, Ryan DeLaHunt and CJ Hess; and freshman Wyatt Derman. Those seven golfers comprised Park Rapids’ six-member varsity team in the majority of meets last season.
After placing fifth at the Mid-State Conference meet with a 345, the Panthers claimed the final spot for the Mid-Minnesota Conference Championship and placed third with a five-player score of 432.
The Panthers played their best rounds at the end of the season by carding a 327 at Bagley and following with a 329 at the North Subsection 8AA meet for sixth place.
Usher is looking for the Panthers to improve on those results this spring.
“I’m still not altering my goals for the team,” said Usher. “I have a goal of us shooting under 320 and I think we can do that multiple times this year. I want to go to the Mid-Minn Championship as a team and make it to the Section 8AA tournament as a team.”
Having a veteran group returning makes those goals reachable.
Johnson qualified for the Section 8AA tournament by carding an 80 at the subsection meet. Johnson, who carded a 91 at the Mid-State meet and an 87 at the Mid-Minn Championship, capped off the season by shooting an 83 at the section meet. Johnson was third on the team with an 87.7 average in 14 rounds. Johnson carded eight rounds under 90 with a team-low 77.
Mueller led the Panthers with an 18-hole average of 85.5 in 13 meets. Mueller carded 12 rounds under 90 with a low of 81. Mueller carded 84s at the Mid-State meet and Mid-Minn Championship and capped off the season with an 82 at the subsection meet.
Stewart was second on the team with an 87.6 average in 11 meets. Stewart earned Mid-Minnesota Conference honors with an 83 and had seven rounds under 90 with a low of 81. Stewart carded an 85 at the Mid-State meet and a 96 at the subsection meet.
Bethel finished with an 88.7 average in 13 meets and had eight rounds in the 80s with a low of 82. Bethel carded an 86 at the Mid-State meet, an 87 at the Mid-Minn Championship and an 83 at the subsection meet.
DeLaHunt played 12 18-hole rounds and compiled a 93.6 average, including a 95 at the Mid-State meet, a 101 at the Mid-Minn Championship and a season-best 84 at the subsection meet.
Derman carded a 91 at the Mid-Minn Championship and a 94 at the subsection meet to end the season with a 94.2 average in 12 meets. Derman’s best round was an 86.
Hess played in three varsity meets and finished with a 93.7 average with a low of 92.
Also back with some varsity experience are junior Andrew Stinar; sophomores Zach Hagen and Dillon Schroeder; and freshmen Remington Hagen and Andrew Schaum. Those five played in one varsity meet each with Remington Hagen carding a 106, Schaum shooting a 107, Schroeder shooting a 125 and Stinar and Zach Hagen carding 128s.
Competing for varsity spots are juniors Cody Brumbaugh, Jeff Jacobson and Zach Jewison; sophomores Ethan Yliniemi and Joseph Bannerman; freshmen Austin Thelen and Hunter Utke; eighth graders Connor Shaw and Jackson Leckner; and seventh graders James Utke and Luke Kosel.
Detroit Lakes should once again be the premier team after winning the Mid-State Conference title with a 294, the Section 8AA title with a 308 and the state Class AA title with rounds of 291 and 310. Usher sees the Panthers challenging defending champion Staples-Motley for the Mid-Minn Conference Championship and contending for a trip to the section tournament.
“I expect great things this year,” said Usher. “We have a talented team and we have a few boys who are capable of making it to state if they play well. This team is very capable of making some noise this year.”