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Panthers set foundation for future

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Before the season began, Jim Weinzierl thought the Park Rapids boys golf team had the potential to finish in the upper half of most meets.

That predication had to be changed when his top four golfers from a year ago decided not to go out for golf this spring.

With the departure of Sam Coborn (47.25 nine-hole average in 2009), Ryan O'Mara (48.75 average), Alex Holmen (49.20 average) and Cole Tretbar (51.08 average), the Panthers returned only four golfers who had played in a varsity meet.

Three of those - seniors Tony Schmid and Gairett Johnson and sophomore Ed Carlson - were on the North Subsection 8AA team that finished sixth with a 378 last season. Senior Ben Breitweser played in two tournaments last season.

With a young group of inexperienced golfers, Weinzierl altered his season goals to focus on improvement from meet to meet. In terms of those standards, the 2010 season was a successful one for the Panthers.

In addition to the four returning varsity players, this year's varsity squad featured senior Sterling Lindahl; sophomore Tyler Booge; freshmen Ian Johnson and Nate Carlson; and eighth graders Bailey Mueller, Dustin Bethel and Jamie Stewart.

That group made significant progress during the season, going from a high of 401 in the third meet of the season to a season low of 344 in the third-to-the-last meet.

"I thought I had the bulk of the team coming back, but a couple of kids decided to play different sports," said Weinzierl. "The kids made good improvement during the course of the year. We were able to cut strokes from the beginning of the season to the end."

The Panthers opened the season with a 392 to finish 16th at the 16-team Detroit Lakes Invitational at Wildflower. The host Lakers won that meet with a 300.

At the two-day Pequot Lakes Invitational, the Panthers shot a 396 at The Pines and a 401 at The Preserve to finish 22nd out of 23 teams with a 797. Hermantown led the field with a 618.

The meet at The Pines also served as a Mid-Minnesota Conference meet as the Panthers finished seventh with a 499 for 19 points. Staples-Motley received 55 points while carding a 409.

Park Rapids shot a 361 to finish fifth at the 16-team Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Invitational at Tianna. Roseau's 316 led the way at that meet.

At the United North Central Invitational at Blueberry Pines, the Panthers shot a 384 to tie for 10th place out of 13 teams. Roseau carded a 313 to win that meet. That meet was also a Mid-Minnesota Conference meet where the Panthers finished sixth with a 488 and 22.5 points. Pequot Lakes took first with a 425 and 56 points.

Warroad shot a 307 to win the title at the 19-team Fosston/Bagley Invitational. The Panthers carded a 412.

The final two regular-season Mid-Minnesota Conference meets followed as the Panthers shot a 469 to earn 22 points and finish sixth at Whitefish and carded a 513 for sixth place and 16 points at Deacon's Lodge. Staples-Motley won the title at Whitefish with a 401 and 54 points while Pequot Lakes earned 54 points with a 406 at Deacon's Lodge to take first at that meet.

The meet at Deacon's Lodge was also an invitational meet where the Panthers finished 10th out of 11 teams with a 394. Brainerd took first with a 313.

Park Rapids fired its low round of the season at the Nevis Invitational at Bears Den with a 344. Staples-Motley took first with a 301 while the Panthers tied for runner-up honors in this eight-team meet.

At the Mid-State Conference meet, Detroit Lakes fired a 295 to win the title while the Panthers placed sixth with a 366.

Ian Johnson, Mueller and Ed Carlson all qualified for the Mid-Minnesota Conference Championship at Wadena. Mueller shot a 91, Johnson carded a 95 and Carlson fired a 103 at that meet.

The Panthers ended the season at the North Subsection 8AA meet at Headwaters Country Club by placing seventh out of eight teams with a 358. Roseau won the subsection title with a 308. Mueller, Ian Johnson, Bethel, Nate Carlson, Ed Carlson and Schmid comprised the Panthers' subsection team.

"I was really proud of how we played at the subsection meet," said Weinzierl. "The kids played well under pressure."

For the season, Ian Johnson, Mueller, Ed Carlson and Nate Carlson played in at least nine of the 12 tournaments.

Ian Johnson finished with a 93.90 18-hole average in 11 meets, carding a season low of 83 at Bears Den and ending the season with a 96 at the Mid-State meet and an 86 at the subsection meet.

Mueller played in 10 meets, finishing with a 94.10 average. Mueller shot an 89 at Walker, an 86 at Whitefish, an 88 at the Mid-State tournament and a season best 85 at the subsection meet.

Ed Carlson, who had a 54.75 nine-hole average in eight meets last season, played 11 meets this year and had a 95.45 18-hole average. Carlson's best rounds were an 87 at Deacon's Lodge and an 81 at Bears Den. Carlson carded a pair of 95s at the Mid-State and subsection meets.

Nate Carlson played nine varsity rounds and had a 98.70 average. Carlson shot a season low 93 at the Mid-State meet and followed with a 94 at the subsection tournament.

Bethel played in four varsity meets and led the team with a 91.50 average. Bethel carded a 91 at the Mid-State meet and a 93 at the subsection meet.

Gairett Johnson finished with a 100.50 average in six varsity meets, including an 87 at Walker and a 103 at the Mid-State meet. Johnson had a 54.14 nine-hole average in eight varsity rounds last season.

Lindahl played in five varsity meets and carded a season low 99 at The Pines. Lindahl ended with a 102.50 average.

Schmid, who served as the Panthers' captain this season, played in six varsity meets and had a 104.16 average. Schmid carded a season low 90 at Walker and shot a 100 at the subsection meet. Schmid had a 53.0 nine-hole average in 12 rounds last season.

Stewart carded rounds of 98 at Fosston/Bagley and 111 at Bears Den in his two varsity meets. Booge shot a 110 at Fosston/Bagley in his only varsity appearance. Breitweser shot a 113 at Fosston/Bagley in his only varsity meet. Breitweser had a 78.0 nine-hole average in six varsity appearances last season.

Even though the Panthers graduate four seniors, Weinzierl is counting on a more successful season in 2011 with the return of the team's top five golfers.

"If we want to compete in the conference and section, we need to shoot in the 70s," said Weinzierl. "These guys love to play golf and they're competitive. I expect them to play a lot of golf this summer. The future looks really bright. We'll definitely be much more competitive next year."