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Paynesville Press - April 6, 2005

Boys set sights higher in golf

By Michael Jacobson

Hopes are high for the Bulldogs boys' golf team, which finished tied for fifth in the conference last year returns senior Mitchell Mackedanz, who took fourth place at state.

The Bulldogs return their top five golfers on the boys' side in 2005. In addition to Mackedanz - who finished second in the WCC North last year, averaging 38.4 strokes per round, and earned All Conference honors for the second straight year - varsity returnees this year are senior Cody Flanders, juniors Ross Barten and Justin Bork, and eighth grader Zach Fuchs.

Bork finished 15th in conference scoring last year, averaging 42.6 strokes per round. Barten averaged 44.8 strokes per round in conference play, Fuchs averaged 45.4, and Flanders averaged 48.2.

With their top five back, and with all five working hard on their games in the offseason, new coach Ron Fuchs hopes the boys can finish in the top three in the WCC North, always an "outstanding" conference in boys' golf, he said.

Counting on the leadership of Mackedanz - who finished second in the conference, third at subsections, second at sections, and fourth at state last year - Fuchs added that the Bulldogs either need greater depth or more consistency to compete with the top conference teams. Last year, the Bulldogs finished tied for fifth in the conference with Melrose, but Fuchs noted that the Dogs were within a few strokes at most meets of beating several other teams.

Fuchs said he has been focusing on playing bogey golf this spring. Make nothing worse than bogey, throw in a couple pars, and you have a round in the low 40s. The returning varsity golfers need to be more consistent this year and avoid blow-up scores, said Fuchs.

The Dogs also need more contributions from its sixth and seventh golfers on varsity, said Fuchs. Traditionally, the top teams in the conference - Albany, LPGE, and Sauk Centre - have counted scores in the 30s from their sixth and seventh golfers. The Dogs, meanwhile, due to a lack of depth, have had to count a high score from its top five if two players had off days at the same meet.

Senior Matt Fuchs, junior Tyler Wendroth, and ninth graders Jeremy Schmidt and Lee Eickhoff should vie for the final two varsity spots, said Fuchs, who hopes that they at least two can become reliable scorers to add depth to the boys' team this year.

Overall, 22 boys in grades 7-12 are out for golf this year, including ten in junior high, giving the team good numbers.

The girls' team, on the other hand, lost a stellar senior class to graduation last year. Only seven girls are out for golf this year.

"This is going to be a learning experience for the girls," said Fuchs. The Dogs lost five seniors to graduation, including four - Brittany Caldwell, Heather Fuchs, Amanda Glenz, and Jena Spaulding - who had played together for six years, since seventh grade.

Fuchs, a two-time All Conference pick, finished second in the WCC North last spring and qualified for state individually, finishing 27th. Glenz was third in the WCC North and also earned All Conference honors last year.

The Bulldogs were second in the WCC North last year, behind Albany.

This year, they might have only four players ready for varsity, according to Fuchs.

Leading the returning players is junior Amber Jensen, who earned All Conference honors two years ago as a ninth grader. Sophomore Marissa Mackedanz also gained some varsity experience last year in her first year in golf and has shown great improvement so far this spring, according to Fuchs.

Sophomore Cassandra Olmscheid is new to the team this year but is expected to vie for a varsity spot, along with ninth grader Katrina Daby. Ninth grader Meghan Doll, ninth grader Natasha Fangmeier, and eighth grader Karla Leitzman are expected to start the year on junior varsity.

Fuchs replaces Todd Knudsvig as the varsity golf coach this year. A former baseball standout, he has been the assistant golf coach the past two years. He will be assisted this year by Jeff Meyer, a 1997 PAHS grad who played collegiately at Bemidji State University and is also the assistant greenskeeper at Koronis Hills Golf Course, where the golf team plays its home meets and practices.

The golf teams were scheduled to have their first meet - against ACGC and NL-S - at Koronis Hills on Tuesday. Next week, the boys will play their first conference meet at Sauk Centre on Tuesday, April 12, and the girls will play in a nonconference meet at Melrose on Thursday, April 14.

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