Reloading for another run
The ending to the 2011 season couldn't have been any better for the Detroit Lakes boys' golf season, after winning their second Class 2A state championship.
But after the Lakers finished on the summit of the golfing world last year, it's time for the team to start at the base once again for the defense of their state championship.
The Lakers lost two players off their title team in Tanner Lane and Connor Hedstrom. Lane was one of DL's top players last season, but now he is skating on the Omaha, Neb., USHL hockey team.
The Lakers are easily reloading for the title defense, however, as they return four players from a team which was stacked with low scorers.
All six DL players' scores counted in the two-day state meet in Jordan last year, and this year's squad is just as deep.
"We had two very good players who we had to leave off the team in Rick Hutchinson and Nate Bausman," said DL head coach Bob Gorden. "They were both right there last year and both are more than ready this season."
The Lakers are not resting on their laurels, either, and are determined to add their third state title this season.
"Our first day of work started last June, the same day we got back from state," Gorden said. "A lot of kids played a lot of golf in the summer and you can tell that. It's a nice way to start out the season."
There are plenty of solid clubs still left in DL's bag, with junior Karter Smith returning, along with junior Austin Rusness, who was last year's Mid-State Conference champion.
Senior Tyler Baukol also is back after having a stellar run late in the 2011 season, including the low score in last year's Sub-Section meet and a good second day at state with a 77.
Add in the improved junior Sam Goral and a host of younger freshmen in Tanner Schnathorst, Christian Hedstrom and Ben Mallow, and the depth is as good as it ever has been.
In other words, the rich get richer.
"Our three freshmen have a lot of ability and Sam Goral had a very good offseason and is waiting in the wings," Gorden said.
Unfortunately, the Lakers do lose sophomore Michael Herzog, who was an instrumental golfer on last year's team, after he tore the ACL in his knee playing basketball.
There is an outside chance Herzog could be ready to contribute by the end of the season.
"He's determined to make it back," Gorden said. "But we have nine good golfers, not counting Michael."
Smith will be a focal point this season after finishing tied for second in the state last year with a 144. He will have close competition on the team for lowman honors, though, as everyone else has the ability to shoot low, as well.
"Karter is as good as anybody in the state," Gorden said. "Austin has been a part of the top six players on the team for quite awhile now and Rick and Nate are ready."
But the Lakers are not looking ahead to Jordan, the site of the Class 2A state tournament.
They first have to make it through a rugged schedule, which opens April 9 in Becker. They also will play in Jordan twice during the regular season, as well as at the University of Minnesota tournament, which is April 27.
"We have a very competitive schedule again and that's what makes us good," Gorden said. "We're going out not worried about rankings, we're just going to worry about ourselves."
Assistant coach Vern Schnathorst is back and has been a very integral part of the team's success over the years as well, Gorden said.
The ultimate goal is to add "repeat" to last year's championship run. With the depth and talent that resides on the Laker squad, those odds are good that it can happen.
The 2012 Detroit Lakes boys' golf schedule:
9 at Becker
13-14 at Hermantown
17 Wildflower Invite
20 at Jordan
20-21 at Pequot Lakes
26 at Brainerd
27 at University of Minnesota
27-28 at Grand Rapids
4 at Park Rapids
4-5 at Fargo North
7 at Bemidji
11-12 DL Invite
14 at Pequot Lakes
17 at St. Cloud
18 at Walker
19 at Wildflower
24 DL Invite
30 Sub-Sections at Park Rapids
4 Section at Walker Longbow Course
13-14 State Tournament in Jordan.