Improvement is main goal for Panthers

A year ago, the Park Rapids boys golf team struggled to get four consistent scores and ended the season by falling short of qualifying for the Section 8AA tournament.

     A year ago, the Park Rapids boys golf team struggled to get four consistent scores and ended the season by falling short of qualifying for the Section 8AA tournament.

     Having to replace five key golfers from last year’s squad will provide a major challenge as the Panthers attempt to peak at the end of the season and secure a trip to the section meet.

     The Panthers hit a high mark last season by carding a 320 to win the title at the Park Rapids Invitational. That was the team’s best round since a 317 in 1998 and was the Panthers’ first tournament title since winning the subsection meet in 2006.

     However, the Panthers finished fifth in the eight-team Mid-Minnesota Conference standings to miss advancing to the conference championship by one spot, shot a 344 to finish third at the Mid-State Conference meet and placed fifth at the eight-team Section 8AA North tournament with a 334 to miss advancing to the section meet.

     Bailey Mueller, Dustin Bethel, Cody Brumbaugh and Ryan DeLaHunt graduated while Wyatt Derman’s family moved. Mueller led the team with an 81.8 average in 12 meets, Derman had an 85.4 average in eight meets, Bethel played 11 rounds and tallied an 87.4 average, Brumbaugh had an 88.2 average in nine meets and DeLaHunt had a 95.1 average in nine meets.


     Mueller and Bethel qualified as individuals for the Mid-Minnesota Conference Championship and both earned all-conference honors with Mueller placing third with a 79 and Bethel carding an 88. Brumbaugh carded an 85 to earn Mid-State Conference honorable mention honors. Mueller’s 80, Derman’s 84 and DeLaHunt’s 87 led the Panthers at the subsection meet. Mueller capped off the season by carding an 88 at the section meet.

     Being counted on to lead the Panthers this season are junior Hunter Utke and sophomores Jackson Leckner and Connor Shaw.

     Utke played in 10 meets and had a 92.2 average, highlighted by an 83 at the subsection meet to advance to the section meet. Utke carded a 104 in his section debut.

     Shaw had a 106.3 average in four meets with rounds of 113, 100, 96 and 116 while Leckner played in two varsity meets and carded rounds of 108 and 105.

     Looking to fill the other varsity spots are seniors Joseph Bannerman and Dillon Schroeder; juniors Matt DeLaHunt and Logan Noonan; sophomores Jacob Bittmann, Jacob Gruis, Eric LaFountain and Dylan Vanderstad; and freshmen Landen Burlingame, Samuel Huot, Luke Kosel, Carter Novak, Darien Simon and James Utke.

     The Panthers will change conferences this season, going from the Mid-Minnesota Conference to the Northern Pines Conference, which plays on nine holes. The Panthers are also looking to contend for a top-three finish in the subsection and qualify some golfers for the section meet.

     Last year, Crookston (314), Roseau (315) and East Grand Forks (324) led the subsection field to advance to the section tournament while Fergus Falls captured the section title with a 310 and finished fifth at the state Class AA tournament.

     “We lost a good group of seniors, but I think we’ll do fine this year. I’m excited about our new conference. I think we’ll do well in the Northern Pines,” said Park Rapids head coach Terry Schroeder. “Hopefully we’ll keep improving and send more people to the section meet this year.”

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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