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Panthers seeking section berth

Dustin Bethel is one of five seniors being counted on to lead the Park Rapids boys golf team this spring. Bethel had an 82.5 18-hole average last season.

     Terry Schroeder inherits a talented group as he takes over as head coach of the Park Rapids boys golf team.

     Schroeder, who coached the Panthers’ junior high boys golf team the last two seasons, has 12 golfers returning who played in a varsity meet last season. Of that list, four return from last year’s North Section 8AA team that finished fifth with a 324.

     Returning to lead the Panthers are the four golfers who competed at last year’s subsection meet: seniors Bailey Mueller, Dustin Bethel and Ryan DeLaHunt and sophomore Wyatt Derman.

     Mueller was second on the team with an 81.7 average in nine 18-hole meets. Mueller carded an 85 to lead the Panthers to fifth place at the Mid-State Conference meet with a 361, shot a 49 at the rain-shortened Mid-Minnesota Conference Championship and qualified for the Section 8AA meet by firing an 81 at the subsection meet. Mueller, who had a season-low 73 at Deacon’s Lodge, capped off the season by carding an 82 at the section meet.

     Bethel was third on the team with an 82.5 average in eight 18-hole meets, highlighted by a 41 to earn all-conference honors at the Mid-Minnesota Conference Championship. Bethel carded a season-low 76 at Bears Den and shot an 81 at the subsection meet.

     Derman was fourth on the team with an 88.0 average in six 18-hole meets. Derman, whose season best was a 77 at Bears Den, carded a 90 at the Mid-State meet, a 52 at the Mid-Minn finals and a 92 at the subsection meet.

     DeLaHunt played eight 18-hole rounds and finished sixth on the team with a 92.5 average. DeLaHunt carded a season-best 81 at Bears Den and had rounds of 45 at the Mid-Minnesota final and a 90 at the subsection meet.

     Also returning with varsity experience are seniors Cody Brumbaugh and Zach Jewison; juniors Zach Hagen, Dillon Schroeder and Ethan Yliniemi; sophomores Hunter Utke and Kodi Robbins; and freshman Jackson Leckner.

     Brumbaugh had a 98.6 average in five rounds with a low of 87, Leckner carded rounds of 114 and 107 in two meets, Jewison carded rounds of 125 and 116 in two meets, and Schroeder had rounds of 139 and 119 in two meets. Robbins (103), Utke (108), Hagen (121) and Yliniemi (130) played in one varsity meet last season.

     Ian Johnson, who led the Panthers with an 81.1 average in nine meets and qualified for the section tournament with a 72 at the subsection meet, graduated and leaves a key spot to replace.

     Looking to compete for a varsity spot will be junior Joseph Bannerman; sophomores Matt DeLaHunt and Austin Thelen; freshmen Isaac Deitchler, Jacob Gruis, Eric LaFountain, Damion Outen, Connor Shaw, Dylan Tollefson and James Utke; and eighth grader Luke Kosel.

     “I want to keep the program strong and going in the right direction,” said Schroeder. “I am excited by what I have seen from my seniors and the underclassmen. I believe we have some real quality golfers and I am hoping for a strong showing in our conference and section.”