NEW ULM - The New Ulm Cathedral golf team covers both ends of the spectrum this year - the girls are ready to aim for a section crown, but the boys don't have anyone on the team older than ninth-grade.
The girls' team returned all of its players from last year, with the team eager to improve on reaching sections as a team last year by going one step further. The boys will be focusing on gaining experience for future years.
Both teams are scheduled to begin the season on April 11 at Sleepy Eye.
Staff photo by Daniel Kerwin
The New Ulm Cathedral girls’ golf team returns all of its players from last year, including four seniors: (left to right) Courtney Berg, Jordan Bode, Emily Steffl and Meghan O’Brien.
Girls' team poised to contend
After fielding a team without any seniors last season, the New Ulm Cathedral girls' golf team has four seniors this year, helping give a veteran presence to a 12-person team that contains experience right throughout the roster.
"It's kind of cool, I guess, just because we haven't had seniors for a couple years," senior Meghan O'Brien said. "It's nice to have that leadership to it."
O'Brien and fellow seniors Courtney Berg, Jordan Bode and Emily Steffl are hoping that this is the year that the team breaks through and reaches the state tournament as a team.
"Hopefully we advance as a team to state," Berg said. "That's been our goal for a long time, so hopefully this year with four seniors we can strive to do that."
Currently the team has only one player with state tournament experience, sophomore Brooke Dummer, who qualified for state in 2011.
The good thing about returning the same lineup as last season is that the team can begin this year right where it left off last season, which saw the Greyhounds advance to sections as a team.
"They have experience, and that's what's great about this year, is that I'm building from where we left off last year," head coach Kayla Berg said. "Unfortunately I don't have any new girls out this year, so I'm hoping we'll pick up some next year for that."
Coach Berg mentions patience as being a big key to the team's success this year, with a late start to the season likely to lead to busy weeks ahead with some meets being made up as triangulars.
Although the players are likely to tire by the end of the season, Courtney Berg stressed that it is important for the players to "not lose focus from what you're doing."
"I know some people at the end of the season are ready to be done so they don't try as hard, but we need to keep trying and keep doing our best," Berg added.
Despite the team's high expectations for the season, the players know that they won't be able to reach their goals without focusing on other things as well.
"I would say do our best and have fun with it," Steffl said of the team's other goals for the season.
The team spent its first two weeks of practice restricted to practicing inside the gym, but on Tuesday the team traveled to the heated driving range at Golf Zone in Shakopee and on Thursday the team spent some time outside at the Brown County fairgrounds.
"It's nice to see your ball actually go somewhere instead of just into a net," Bode said.
The players mentioned that finally being able to be outside has helped them notice some things that the need to work on, such as distance and working on the direction of their shots.
"You definitely get to see where you left off, or even what you lost having not been able to play for a while," O'Brien said.
No matter how the season turns out in terms of results, the seniors are hoping to enjoy one final season of playing alongside their long-time teammates.
"It's just kind of weird that we're going to be done," Bode said. "I feel like I just started as an eighth grader."
Boys' team young, but eager to learn
The New Ulm Cathedral boys' golf team makes no secret of how it expects this season to go with a young squad of only six players - three seventh-graders, an eighth-grader and two freshmen.
"We're going to be really rebuilding this year," head coach John Miheve said. "It's not going to be going for making the state tournament, we're going to go for just getting better every round. We'll have four or five years with these guys playing, so they've got a long way to go. We're not concerned about wins and scores this year, we're going to be really concerned about getting better - and they have been just in the practices we've had."
The team's freshmen, Jack Wenner and Conner Jakes, are getting an early start at taking leadership roles on the team.
"Seniors know how to be upperclassmen, they know how to take that leadership role," Wenner said. "We're still trying to take care of that role. We're not really taking advantage of it as much - we still have learning to do ourselves, but we're just trying to help as much as we can."
Despite the team's youth and inexperience this season, Jakes feels that "we definitely have a bright future ahead of us, for sure, because we're kind of like mentoring the young guys to be better in the future."
The team struggled with the wind during its first outdoor practice Thursday at the fairgrounds, but Wenner mentioned that even that was good experience for the team.
"I'm kind of glad we have wind, because we have a chance for difficulty in which we can get more experience, too," Wenner said. "It's supposed to still stay windy for next week, so it's good to have experience."
Although the team doesn't expect to contend at meets this season, Wenner said that the Greyhounds are eager to impress other teams with their determination.
"We're not state-bound, but we're trying our hardest," Wenner said.