Four golf teams to battle for Polar CupTechnically in golf, the Polar League doesn’t exist this year. But thanks to Steve Mokros, the rivalries live on. The historic conference built with its rich competitive sports tradition has lagged behind in the golf world. The usual 11-team league in other high school sports featured only five golf teams last year. With the dropping of Cook County, the league had to officially dismantle this spring.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Technically in golf, the Polar League doesn’t exist this year. But thanks to Steve Mokros, the rivalries live on.
The historic conference built with its rich competitive sports tradition has lagged behind in the golf world. The usual 11-team league in other high school sports featured only five golf teams last year. With the dropping of Cook County, the league had to officially dismantle this spring.
That’s when Mokros stepped in.
Dismayed to watch the longtime league fold, the ninth-year coach at Moose Lake-Willow River made a few calls to local coaches, his school’s athletic director and an athletics store in Willow River.
The Polar Cup was born.
Over time, Mokros confirmed the creation of a pair of traveling cups for the remaining Polar League schools. Come Tuesday, April 26, ML-WR, Wrenshall, Esko-Carlton and Two Harbors will battle for the first-ever boys and girls cups at the Moose Lake Golf Club.
“I figured it’d be something fun,” said Mokros. “I got on the phone, called the coaches and all were in favor.”
Mokros said that after getting a full agreement from opposing coaches, he talked to Athletic Director Dave Louzek about the idea.
“He thought it was a great idea, too,” Mokros said.
That’s when he got on the horn with T&M Athletics in Willow River and got the fancy cups.
“They’re really nice,” Mokros said. “The Polar League paid for them.”
Mokros mentioned that the old Polar League a year ago had four meets. This year, however, the four remaining schools will clash for the cups next week
“We tried to resurrect the old Polar League, but with Cook County dropping, that made it difficult, since we had to have five teams,” said Mokros, whose Rebels actually compete now in the Great River Conference further south. “Now, though, there’s a little more extra-incentive for the kids.”
Local coaches agreed.
“In basketball, we have the Brown Jug game every year with Carlton,” said Wrenshall boys golf coach and Superintendent Rick Herman, “and this is kind of like that, too. I think it’s a great idea.”
In order to hoist the cups at the end of next week’s inaugural battle, Mokros explained they are holding a nine-hole meet. Once winners are determined, the cups will travel from school to school over the years, like a traveling souvenir.
“We don’t have that many teams in golf,” continued Herman, “but this something for the kids to strive for rather than just a score.”
Esko-Carlton boys coach Dave Haugen hasn’t heard much, however.
“The only thing I know is there’s a cup,” he said.
Eskomos girls coach Sue Northey is on the same page as Haugen but excited about the chance to hit the links.
“I don’t know much about it,” she laughed, “but I know it’s nice to have something to compete for. Anything to encourage the game is a great opportunity for the kids. Now the biggest challenge is the weather.”
Last Friday, ML-WR’s host meet was cancelled due to inclement weather. Both the Rebels and Esko girls have played against Pine City, while the Esko boys played 36 holes in Pequot Lakes, Minn., on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wrenshall meanwhile, is still waiting to play.
“Our first meet will be for the Polar Cup,” said Herman. “The boys are excited. Hopefully we can get out there.”
As for the Polar Cup, it’s not only the competing schools that like it.
“Even schools without golf teams are supporting the idea,” said Mokros. “There have always been rivalries with these teams. It’s something new.”
And something pretty cool.
Officials will give out a boys and girls cup. The meet kicks off at 4:15 p.m. next Tuesday in Moose Lake.
Now all they need is some sunshine.
Cloquet boys open at Tartan Invitational
While the girls are still practicing for their season opener, the Lumberjacks boys got on the golf course Monday when they competed in the Tartan Invitational.
The annual southern trip was one to talk about on the way home.
Overall, the Lumberjacks finished in 10th place out of the 16 competing teams, while their total score of 344 wasn’t too shabby for their first time out.
Senior captain Andrew Castle guided the way for Cloquet, as the conservative player shot an impressive 76 to tie for fifth place overall individually.
Hudson, Wis., ran away from its opponents, winning the Invite at 303.