Head coach Jeff Anderson will be relying heavily on his four returning letterwinners to tee up a successful season for the Park Rapids boys golf team this spring.
Returning to lead the Panthers are senior Cody Dravis, junior Kaelan Emerson, and sophomores Tate Usher and Alec Nordin. Dravis, Emerson and Usher helped the Panthers repeat as Northern Pines Conference champs by winning five of the eight 9-hole rounds. Usher tied for second in conference play with a 39.7 average to earn First Team honors while Dravis was 10th with a 46.7 average and Emerson was 12th with a 46.8 average to earn Second Team honors.
During invitational meets, Usher carded an 84.8 average in four 18-hole rounds with a low of 79. Usher ended the season with an 86 at the Mid-State Conference meet and an 85 at the Pre-8AA North tournament.
Dravis was third on the team with a 92.4 average in seven 18-hole rounds with a low of 88 three times. Dravis carded a 98 at the conference meet, shot an 88 at the 8AA North tournament to qualify for the Section 8AA meet, and had rounds of 88 and 89 to place 32nd with a 177 at the Section 8AA meet.
Emerson had a 94.0 average in four 18-hole rounds with a low of 89. Emerson ended the season with a 100 at the Section 8AA North tournament.
Nordin carded a 102 in his only varsity meet.
Park Rapids placed fifth at the Mid-State Conference meet with a 353 as Detroit Lakes carded a 314 to capture the conference title for the 25th consecutive year. The Panthers ended the season with a 370 for sixth place at the Section 8AA North tournament at Blueberry Pines as Roseau took first with a 338. East Grand Forks (349) and Warroad (353) earned the other berths to the section tournament. Detroit Lakes won the Section 8AA title at Bemidji with a two-day total of 617 and finished second at the state Class AA tournament.
The Panthers have three key spots to fill with the graduation of Luke Kosel and Blake Higgins and the loss of Bjorn Jorgenson, who moved to Bemidji. Jorgenson was the NPC medalist with a 39.2 average and led the Panthers with a 82.0 average in seven 18-hole rounds, including an 85 at the Section 8AA North tournament and rounds of 78 and 88 for a 166 to place 17th at the Section 8AA meet. Kosel was fourth on the team with a 92.7 18-hole average and placed eighth in NPC play with a 45.8 average to earn Second Team honors. Higgins had a 105.7 average in three 18-hole rounds and a 49.8 average in NPC play.
Looking to compete for the other varsity spots are senior Ashton Clark and sophomores James Hartig, Kenton Klein, Isaiah Phillipii, Blake Simpson and Mason Smith.
Anderson is looking for the Panthers to repeat as Northern Pines Conference champs, improve on last year's 354.0 team score in 18-hole meets and qualify at least one golfer for the section tournament.
"Cody, Tate and Kaelan were all-Northern Pines Conference golfers and those three should post good scores again this season. It (our team success) all depends on the other three kids," said Anderson. "With the late start, it's hard to see what our potential is and predict how well we'll do. We'd like to win the Northern Pines Conference again and qualify some kids for the section tournament. I think we have the potential to do it."
REMAINING SEASON SCHEDULE
May 2 - Northern Pines Conference meet at Bigfork, 5 p.m. May 3 - Park Rapids Invitational at Headwaters Golf Club, 9:30 a.m. May 6 - at Bemidji Invitational, 9 a.m. May 9 - Northern Pines Conference meet at Deer River, 5 p.m May 13 - Mid-State Conference meet at Staples, 9 a.m. May 14 - Northern Pines Conference meet at Castle Highlands, 4:30 p.m. May 28 - Section 8AA North tournament at Warroad, 10 a.m.
June 3-4 - Section 8AA meet at Bemidji Town & Country Club, 8 a.m.