Young Tigers swing for the greens
The Morris Area / Chokio-Alberta golf team started its season in the gym on Monday, March 17. With the snowfall that week, it looked bleak for the golfers to start competing on time. As you may remember last years Spring season was shortened to just one month of play, but both golf coaches hope this season is different and look to start on Monday (boys) and Tuesday (girls) in Ortonville, which opened last weekend.
First timer coaching golf, MA/C-A new head coach Joey Fragodt replaces Jerry Witt at the boys golf helm, and Fragodt, who never golfed in school, is nothing short of excited for this brand new coaching opportunity and experience.
“I have never been in golf before in my life,” Fragodt laughed.
It’s true. Fragodt was in track and tennis for his spring sports in high school, but rest assured, he still has a lot of experience with a golf club.
“I’ve never coached golf, I’ve never been in golf, but I have played a ton of golf in my life. I’m not a terrible golfer. I know what I’m doing… I went through a big phase in my life where I’d watch the golf channel and stuff,” Fragodt laughed. “I had no idea that I would ever coach golf, the opportunity just kind of popped up.”
In 2012-13, the boys had a fifth place finish in the West Central Conference and graduated five seniors.
“We’re going to be young by default, just by graduating five seniors last year,” Fragodt said.
There are nine total guys out for golf this season, and eight of them are returning golfers from last season, including some varsity golfers in freshmen Jacob Zosel and Briar Peterson and sophomores Andrew Ulrich and Russell Lindahl.
“They look pretty good so far,” Fragodt said. “For being how young they are, they are doing just fine.”
The Tigers have one all-conference golfer returning in Zosel.
“Jacob looks really good this year, he’s our captain,” Fragodt said. “He has been doing a really nice job helping out in practice and this and that because he knows the guys and what their issues have been in the past. It’s nice to see in a player in any sport really.”
As for the newcomer sophomore Taylor Staples, Fragodt sees potential in him, saying even in the few short weeks of practice they’ve had, he noticed Taylor has gotten a lot better.
The ten-team West Central Conference was pretty strong last season, and Fragodt and the rest of the boys golf team believe that it will be decently strong again this season, so goals and expectations for this young Tiger team are set realistically.
“I would be very happy finishing top half of the conference with this crew,” Fragodt said. “Last year, they took second at the four-team subsection meet… Ideally, I’d like to move on from subsections as a team and get to that section meet. It’d be good for these younger guys to get fired up and see that they can compete and then you know, who knows what can happen in a couple years.”
In his sixth season of coaching, the 2012-2013 season, MA/C-A girls golf head coach Austen Miller coached some of the most coachable girls he’s ever had the pleasure of working with. This season shouldn’t be any different, since there were no graduating seniors off his squad last year.
The Tiger girls have 10 golfers out for the team in grades 7-12, and return all varsity golfers: senior Lily Erdahl, sophomore Maddie Hennen, freshmen Shiori Legate and Katie Ohren, and eighth grader Megan Kirkeide.
“I didn’t lose anybody at all last year,” Miller said. “It’s great that we have everyone back, plus a couple new seventh graders that came out, so that’s always good. They are a great group of girls, very coachable both instructionally and etiquette wise.”
Returning all of his golfers, goals and expectations for the season are a little higher than last year. That is simply because his returning varsity has that year under their belt already competing against varsity level competition, so the pressures and nerves of varsity meets, even for the younger varsity golfers, shouldn’t be as high this season.
“Our biggest goal is to always advance players to sections,” Miller said. “We had two last year, Maddie and Shiori, so I am hoping those two will go again along with Lily, our only senior. She was really close last year, just had an off day.”
Though expectations are higher this season from an individual standpoint, Miller is realistic about the teams success as a whole. The 10-team West Central Conference has top teams like Minnewaska and BOLD– both having successful seasons the past few years, finishing first and second respectively in the conference last season. Minnewaska itself being a girls golf powerhouse, winning the conference and section tournament to go to the state meet for the ninth straight year in the 2012-2013 season.
“Minnewaska is in our section and conference,” Miller said. “Which makes things pretty tough, they’re one of the better teams in the state, so it’s kind of like you’re playing ‘second fiddle’ and BOLD is pretty good, too. I think a realistic team goal for us would be to finish top five in the conference.”
If you don’t know much about how golf is scored, for meet play, you’re allowed to take six golfers to a meet, and the top four scores are counted towards the total at the end of the day, and the team with the lowest total score wins the meet. The issue with the MA/C-A girls is that the drop between the top three golfers and the rest of the team is pretty significant according to coach Miller and past season scores.
“Conference wise it’s tough as a team because we have three decent golfers, but then it drops off quite significantly,” Miller continued. “If we can get one or two of those girls to shoot really well, close the gap a little bit, to get that fourth score up, we could do really well this season. I’m hoping for a consistent fourth scorer this year.”
Miller is also hoping for at least one recognized All West Central Conference golfer this season. All conference recognition is based on a percentage of total number of girls in the conference, and last season both Hennen and Legate both were recognized as all-conference golfers.
“We’re a young team, which is good because then I can get them before they develop any bad habits… And hopefully not teach them any bad habits,” Miller laughed.
“We had a young group last year, but it was good for us coming into this season,” Miller said. “It’s nice for those younger ones like Megan and Katie to get those nerves of ‘having a varsity meet’ out of the way because it is really nerve racking, especially as a seventh or eighth grader having to play against juniors and seniors. Getting that season under their belt, hopefully they know what to expect this year and are less nervous because of that, so I’m hoping that’s to our advantage this year.”