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Returner Connor Hedstrom blasts his way out of a sand trap during a meet last year. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

Replacing state champions

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sports Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Looks can be deceiving, as will be the case for the 2009 Detroit Lakes boys' golf team.

Looking at the cover of this year's Laker boys' golf edition, one could think it will be a rebuilding project, after all six starting players from last year's Class 2A co-state championship team graduated.

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This means, of course, every one of the DL golfers will be relatively new on the varsity squad.

While all that is true, don't be fooled by the talent and experience which is returning for the 2009 season.

"Yes, we lost six golfers from last year's state championship team, and most of them have been in the program for a long time," said DL head coach Bob Gorden. "But we do have seven letter winners coming back, who played some varsity last year."

With the way the schedule is set up for the Lakers, there are several weekend tournaments in which the "second" varsity team competes -- kind of a split squad kind of format.

In those meets in which the second set of varsity players competed last season, they did quite well -- winning the Wildflower meet, while finishing in the top three at Moorhead and Brainerd.

"Also, these kids have played a lot last summer," Gorden said. "We have 24 golfers out, so there will be a lot of competition for those spots, too."

The makeup of the team will be much different than last year's, where seniors dominated the lineup.

This season, only one senior, Ben Langworthy, is on the team.

He is joined by a solid group of letter winners, including juniors Nathan Ginnaty and Ross Mickelson, sophomores Tanner Lane and Connor Hedstrom, freshman Ricky Hutchinson and eighth grader Karter Smith.

There also will be a host of junior through seventh grade golfers vying for varsity spots, Gorden said.

With the shadow from the 2008 state championship team cast over the 2009 season, Gorden said he is telling his team not to look back, but forward.

"I hear these kids have big shoes to fill, but I don't look at it that way," Gorden said. "None of these guys were on that team last year. Our first goal is to win a Mid-State Conference title and then defend our section title. You have to win your section before you can go to state.

"We don't want to discuss the state tournament until, if, we get there."

One advantage this year's Lakers did gain was being around the seniors last year and finding out what it takes to become champions.

"The big things this year will be consistency and working hard," Gorden added. "There will be ups and downs, but if you can have a down without a really high score, that's key.

"The guys (this year) found out last year they will need to battle and grind it out."

The Lakers start the season Wednesday, April 15, with a meet at Wildflower Golf Course.

Detroit Lakes boys' golf 2009 schedule:

April

15 at Wildflower

17-18 U of M Tournament

17-18 at Pequot Lakes

23 at Pequot Lakes

24-25 at Grand Rapids

25 at Staples

29 at Brainerd

May

1-2 at Virginia

4 at Bemidji

6 at Crosby-Ironton

8-9 DL Northwest Classic

12 Mid-State meet at Crosby

12 at Moorhead

14 at St. Cloud

15 at Walker

19 DL Invite

21 Subsections at Wildflower

26 Section 8-2A meet at Walker.

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