Thursday, April 8 the Detroit Lakes girls golf team is first up, scheduled to play in a 14-team invitational at Pebble Creek Golf Course in Becker at the opening Laker spring sporting event of the season.
Conditions are scheduled to be soggy, a tough start to a year that brings new faces and new challenges.
Detroit Lakes was moved to Class AAA, just on the girls side, after the 2019 season. Last year’s spring sports were wiped out by COVID-19 restrictions.
With the next Minnesota State League Class shuffle coming at the end of the month, this may be a one and done in AAA play or the Lakers might be there for another two years.
Detroit Lakes dominated AA golf from subsections to state over the past 10 years winning all 10 section titles and four state championships.
Gone from that last team are college golfers Shelby Busker (IUPUI) and Anna Cihak (MSU-Mankato), but DL returns four from the last section championship team that placed third at state in McKenna Mallow, Hanna Knoop, McKenna Burhans and Evan Westrum.
Mallow is the top returner after finishing in the top 20 at state in 2019 behind Cihak (3rd) and Busker (8th) on the individual podium.
The Laker girls have never finished off the team podium (top 3 schools) in 12 appearances at state, winning seven titles overall, and adding two second place marks and three third place finishes in program history.
Detroit Lakes’ first state championship in 2006 was a similar situation when girls golf was played under a two-class system. That Laker team competed against bigger schools and had a challenging path to the championship.
The 2006 state champions Christine Herzog, Amy Anderson, Sarah Baukol, Danelle Olson and sisters Betsy and Robin Hutchinson, coached by Jim Buchholz, Alan Squires and Vicki Johnson, were the first DL golf team to be enshrined in the Detroit Lakes Athletic Foundations’ Hall of Honor. The first of what will be many Laker golfers to earn that distinction in years to come.
Class AAA golf looks a bit more like regular section opponents for the Lakers. DL will compete against Alexandria, Becker, Bemidji, Brainerd, Buffalo, Monticello, Moorhead, Sartell, Sauk Rapids-Rice, St. Cloud Tech, Willmar and St. Cloud Apollo.
Thursday, the Lakers will see two of those teams in Becker and Monticello. Minnewaska will also be in the field, a team that finished second, 15 strokes in front of the Lakers at the last AA state meet.
One convenient anomaly on the schedule is the Section 8AAA championship will be played on a familiar course at Headwaters in Park Rapids. The Lakers play there twice in the regular season and have a lot of postseason familiarity having posted big wins there during subsections for decades.
Detroit Lakes will also have a new coaching staff in 2021 with Dustin Martin replacing Kris Smith as head coach. Martin was an assistant under Smith. Trisha Demarais is the new assistant coach.
The Lakers are the only team in action this week, with tennis, baseball and softball getting underway next week.
Varsity sports first week schedule
Monday, April 12
Boys Tennis at Crookston, 11 a.m.
Tuesday, April 13
Baseball at Pequot Lakes, 4 p.m.
Softball vs Pequot Lakes, 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 15
Baseball vs Bemidji, 4 p.m.
Friday, April 16
Boys Golf Invitational at Lakeview, 2 p.m.
Softball vs Hawley (DH), 4 p.m.
Read more stories by Robert Williams here.