Cloquet teams are optimistic
For the Lumberjacks, this could be the year.
Returning all but one of their starting athletes from a year ago, graduating Derek Shrecengost, the Cloquet boys golf team is experienced and ready to make a run at things this spring. Their coach, Tom McFarlane, says they’re a talented crew.
“Honestly, we should be OK,” he said. “These guys have been playing together for a long time. Many have been on the varsity since seventh grade.”
Heading the Lumberjacks’ hyped cast will be senior captain Andrew Castle, along with fellow seniors Jack McFarlane, Evan Sheff, Karl Palmquist and junior Eric Fryc – all capable of firing low.
Along with the quintet, David McKinney, Dalton Gust, Brett Morrison and Zach Strom will provide depth at the sixth spot for Cloquet, which will open up their season Monday when they finally get outside and head to the Tartan Invitational.
“I’d be very disappointed if these guys didn’t compete for the section this year,” McFarlane said. “They’ve played plenty.”
The Cloquet girls, meanwhile, are full of youth again, but are optimistic.
“We’ve been practicing indoors for a couple weeks now at the Cloquet Middle School,” said coach Mary Carey. “We’re still young, but are hoping to improve.”
The Lumberjacks will be guided by freshman Arica Sheff, along with eighth-grader Rachel Morrison and the return of senior Laura Bakken.
Cloquet will open the year in early May when they head to the Wilderness with their eight-member squad. Carey said they’re excited to get outdoors soon.
“If the driving range is open coming up, we’ll be up there,” she chuckled.
Esko-Carlton squads already outside
Sue Northey said Monday afternoon was great.
That’s because in just the third week of April, her Esko-Carlton girls golf team has already competed in Pine City’s early-season scramble. And well, along with the perfect spring golf weather, the links were looking superb.
“The course was in good shape,” Northey said. “The greens were really nice. It was really nice to get out and get on the course down there.”
Northey, assisted by co-coach Mary Weets, said the Eskomos are getting better. They have 11 girls on the roster, who have been practicing indoors in the morning at Esko’s Lincoln High School. Once outside fully, Esko-Carlton will call the Cloquet Country Club home, while they are also working on a partnership with Black Bear as well.
According to Northey, juniors Sara Juntunen and Cori Pellitier are the top players returning to a cast that features only three upperclassmen. Both Juntunen and Pellitier have been on the varsity since seventh grade and will be the keys this spring.
“Right now, we’re on the cusp of building a competitive program,” Northey said, noting that they’ll play Friday at Moose Lake. “A lot of kids have been taking lessons and working at their game. I’m excited. I think by May we should have six solid golfers.
Dave Haugen likes what he sees with the boys team as well. In his second-year coaching the Eskomos, Haugen thinks things have been going well. Like the girls, his crew got to play outside Tuesday at Grandview near Proctor.
“We’ve been outside a couple of times already,” Haugen said.
Leading Esko-Carlton this spring will be freshmen Nick Neve, Marc Peterson and Kory Deadrick. Haugen said Neve made the second day of sectionals a year ago, while both Peterson and Deadrick can fire some low rounds.
“The big thing will be consistency, as we’ll look to get better and better as time goes on,” Haugen explained, noting they’ll also be at Moose Lake Friday, weather permitting. “I don’t think the weather will be the greatest Friday, but I think the course will be open.”
ML-WR to compete for conference titles
You can excuse Steve Mokros for being a little pumped up about the golf season.
After all, both of his Moose Lake-Willow River boys and girls golf teams should contend for the Great River Conference crown this spring. The pair of squads is returning talent.
“Both teams should be very good, I think,” said Mokros, in his ninth season with the Rebels.
For the boys, junior Jake Indihar will be the centerpiece, as he’ll look to return from a broken hand during the basketball season. Also back are brothers Grant Douglas, a freshman, and Gabe Douglas, an eighth-grader.
“Jake’s been playing varsity since seventh grade,” said Mokros of Indihar. “He’s our top golfer. He likes to hit the ball far, but we’ll have to work on his consistency a bit.”
Looking at the girls, ML-WR is strong, Mokros said, adding that both teams got some practice in on their course’s fairways Tuesday.
Leading the Rebels will be return of junior Sam Schaumburg, sophomore Kayla Larson and youngster Lindsay Loehlein. Mokros said Loehlein was the top finisher at sections last year for ML-WR.
Both teams will open Friday at home.
“The course will be open,” said Mokros, “and we’ll be ready to go.”
Mokros noted that – although there’s not an official Polar League this spring – they’ll host the Polar Cup April 26 when they welcome Esko-Carlton, Wrenshall and Two Harbors in a winner-take-all event for the first time.
Wrenshall boys look to improve
In year two, the Wrenshall boys golf team is off and going. Despite the mud.
“It’s extremely wet,” said coach Rick Herman, laughing about their practice at Pine Hill in Carlton on Monday afternoon. “But it’s better than driving balls into the football field.”
Herman began the Wrens boys golf program last year for the first time in school history. He had 16 boys and a pair of girls. This spring, however, numbers have dropped with the addition of a baseball program, and track and field. He now sports 11 total golfers, all boys.
Of those 11, only two are upperclassmen, including Peter Granholm, who transferred the year before. Due to Minnesota State High School League rules, the junior had to play on the junior varsity team, but this spring, to Herman, he’ll be one to look to.
“We’re going to build around Peter,” Herman said.
Other top returning varsity athletes from last year include standout eighth-graders Trent Olson and Aaron Adkins. The team will begin seasonal play Friday at Moose Lake.
“It could very cold Friday,” Herman said, chuckling about the weather forecast, “but they’re all really excited for it.”