NEW ULM - Despite losing four seniors from last year's Section 2A runner-up team, New Ulm Cathedral girl's golf coach Kayla Berg is not concerned about this season.
That is because the team has its lone state qualifier, junior Brooke Dummer, returning as well as a bevy of young players who will be competing for spots on varsity.
"Every year is a new year, spots are open to anyone," Berg said. "The girls mix well together and that makes the team do well."
Along with Dummer and fellow junior Megan Laraway, Berg said she sees potential in Grace Gillis and Ellie Dittrich - both of whom have varsity experience from last year.
Dummer is a two-time state qualifier - as an eighth-grader and a sophomore - and knows what to expect for her fifth season on varsity. Dummer said her short game has been one of the best aspects of her game, but she has really had to focus on her chipping to keep her scores low.
"I've really learned how to use the right clubs, or I've gotten better over the years on my distances and choosing which club to use," Dummer said.
Last season, Dummer averaged a 47 and registered a season-best of 44. She attributed the success of her 44 to her attention to chipping, which she said has never been one of her strong suits.
"To be honest, Brooke is really great," Laraway said. "I'd say I bring the energy and she brings the focus."
Laraway has yet to qualify for state, but is still relied upon as a leader in similar fashion as Dummer.
"They've been on the team longer than anyone else," Berg said of her junior tandem. "I expect them to be a role model, teach the youngers. Since we do have a bigger team of 12 players this year, I can't get to everyone so hopefully they'll step in and help the younger ones too."
Sleepy Eye, Minnesota Valley Lutheran and Sleepy Eye St. Mary's will be a few of the tougher teams in Section 2A this year. However, Cathedral hopes to still be in the thick of it when the postseason rolls around.
"I hope that we can make it to sections as a team," Laraway said. "I think that's really tangible."
JAKES, WENNER LEAD BOY'S TEAM
New Ulm Cathedral boy's golf coach John Miheve said he still is not sure where is team is after its second week of limited indoor practice.
There is one thing he does know: His team will be better than it was last year.
"We're young as heck - almost as young as we were last year," Miheve said. "As far as wins and losses, I haven't got a clue. ... I know that these guys play golf in the summer and I'm pretty confident that our scores are going to be better than they were last year."
One of the disadvantages of only being able to practice indoors, Miheve said, is that his players are unable to put in extra work in their long-range game.
For sophomore Conner Jakes, he said this is especially frustrating since driving is one of the parts of his game that he needs to hone the most.
"It's really tough because you don't really see how the ball flies or how it really feels to hit it because you're hitting on turf or mats," Jakes said. "It's a lot harder [to gauge]."
Jakes is still one of the better golfers on the team having made it to sections individually last season. Miheve said Jack Wenner is another experienced player who will be returning this year.
"His putting is really good and his driving is getting a lot better," Jakes said of Wenner. "He's been working on it a lot."
Despite not being able to sharpen their long-range skills, the players have been taking advantage of indoor practices by developing their short-range game, which includes putting and approach shots.
However, it can get dangerous practicing in the gym with golf balls ricocheting off the mats on the walls.
"We haven't killed anybody yet and that's always a big thing as far as being inside," Miheve said. "That's what I focus on the first few weeks is let's not get anybody hurt. This isn't a sport you expect to get hurt playing, but you can like we are inside now."
With the way the weather is looking, Miheve said his team will likely be practicing outdoors in the upcoming week.
"It will still be short-game stuff, but it will be better than being in the gym," Miheve said.