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BHS spring previews: Boys golf: Golf program features experience, youth

Front row, from left: Leo Spry, Jaret Lalli, Matt Gregg, Brandon Reynolds, Bernard Curtis, Chris Wright. Middle row, from left: Steven Johans, Zach Mans, Chris Washington, Kylen Adams, Nick Leitner, Jaimie Wood, Ben Christopher, Ben Giles. Back row, from left: Coach Seth Knudson, Cole Hartje, Sam Bruestle, Matt Mutchler, Jack Johnson, Matt Allen, coach Jim Jensen. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — The future of the Bemidji boys golf program appears to be bright as the majority of this year’s players are young and will only improve in the coming years.

“We have some seniors this year who will contribute but we also have a very good group of sophomores and some very good freshmen,” said BHS coach Seth Knudson. “At the beginning of the year you base everything on last year’s results but, after looking at the swings of the young guys, I think some of those kids could make their way onto the top six.”

Leading the Lumberjacks will be returning senior lettermen Sam Bruestle, Isaac Bleser and Ben Christopher. Senior Zach Posner also is back.

The lone junior is Chris Washington but the majority of the roster is comprised of 12 sophomores.

That group includes Matt Gregg, Yoel Gutierrez, Ben Haaland, Cole Hartje, Jack Johnson, Nick Leitner, Zach Mans, Matt Mutchler, Brandon Reynolds, Chase Todavich, Jamie Wood and Bernard Curtis.

Among the relatively large group of freshmen are Matt Allen, Steven Johans, Jaret Lalli, Leo Spry, Kylen Adams, Ben Giles, Xavier Whalen and Chris Wright.

Knudson is pleased with the mix of upperclassmen and youngsters on the roster and guidance from the seniors will be instrumental in any success the Lumberjacks experience this spring.

“Our youth is a strength but we also have good role models and leaders at the senior level and their leadership will definitely be a help,” the coach said. “The tough part of playing competitive golf for younger players often is the nerves but I think the seniors on our team will help the younger players handle that.

“In practice you can’t replicate tournament golf and how the nerves will affect you. You can’t replicate hitting the first tee shot in the tournament or the putt on 18 to break 80 in a competitive round.”

A year ago the first shot in a tournament wasn’t hit until May 6 at a meet in Coleraine. The golf courses in the Bemidji area didn’t open until the second week of May so practice time also was limited.

The jury is still out on how cooperative the weatherman will be this season but Knudson and the Jacks would appreciate a quick change in the seasons.

“The best thing that could happen for us is to have a warm spell so we could get outside,” the coach said. “We need to practice, especially the short game, and you can’t do that in the wrestling room at the high school. We can practice straight 3-footers but that’s not what you find on real greens.”

Last spring BHS failed to advance to the second day of the section meet although four individuals made the first-day cut. None of them, however, qualified for the state tournament.

“Our goal is always to be there on the second day and have a shot at state,” Knudson said. “This year I think that is a realistic goal. The schools that made it to the second day last year all lost some seniors. We did too but I think we have talent coming back.

“We’ll have plenty of kids who will break 80 during the year,” the coach continued. “But the key is to have four kids do it on the same day.”

The unpredictability of the spring weather severely hampers high school golfers in northern Minnesota and the schedules are always in flux. If the weatherman cooperates, however, the Jacks will begin their season April 14 at Detroit Lakes and head to The Legacy April 16-17 for a meet hosted by Pequot Lakes.

The annual Bemidji Invitational at the Bemidji Town and Country Club will be May 5.

“I always get excited this time of the year,” Knudson said. “All of the kids are excited to see what we have and how we match with the other schools. Alexandria won the section last year but I expect Moorhead, St. Cloud Tech and Buffalo to be right there.

“And we have some talent as well. If we can progress and peak at the right time, we’ll be fine. I think we have a good shot at making it to the second day and after that, who knows what could happen.”

The schedule

Boys Golf

Coach: Seth Knudson

4/14 at D. Lakes (Lakeview) 1:30 p.m.

4/16 at Pequot Lakes (Legacy) 1 p.m.

4/16 at Pequot Lakes (Legacy) 9:45 a.m.

5/2 at Fergus Falls Inv. 11 a.m.

5/3 at Fergus Falls Inv. 8:30 a.m.

5/5 Bemidji Inv. (BTCC) 9 a.m.

5/9 at Pre-Section (Greystone) 9 a.m.

5/15 at St. Cloud Country Club 1:30 p.m.

5/16 Detroit Lakes (Longbow) 10 a.m.

5/17 Detroit Lakes (Headwaters) 11 a.m.

5/20 at Detroit Lakes CC 9 a.m.

5/21 at The Pines 8:30 a.m.

5/26 BHS-Moorhead (Greystone) 10 a.m.

5/27 Section 8-3A (Greystone) TBD

5/28 Section 8-3A (Greystone) TBD

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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