Wrens ready for golfA tiny town without a country club, public golf course or even place to play within reasonable walking distance, Wrenshall doesn’t exactly scream golf.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
A tiny town without a country club, public golf course or even place to play within reasonable walking distance, Wrenshall doesn’t exactly scream golf.
But for 16 players this spring, it does.
As the high school golf season approaches this week, the Wrens will sport their third-year boys golf squad, along with a first-ever girls team. According to Wrenshall Coach and Superintendent Rick Herman, the small community has 10 boys and six girls playing daily, making up two varsity teams.
“I’ve never had enough girls to make a full team,” Herman said Wednesday morning. “The numbers have improved, though, and I bet next year, we’ll have even more sign up.”
Herman said last Christmas eight to nine girls showed initial interest and when March practices began, six students committed to play. Herman explained the squad fields a pair of seventh-graders, three eighth-graders and one senior, Natalie Peaney.
“Most of them have never played before,” Herman said. “In fact, for some of them, it’s their first time ever picking up golf clubs.”
Although inexperienced, Herman praised the girls who are on the team.
He said his boys squad returns a number of more experienced golfers.
“All but one of our boys has played on the team before,” Herman said. “For a lot of them, this is their third year and they understand the program. Many can play competitively; it’s just a matter of fine-tuning their game to be more competitive.”
Herman said the boys team features three sophomores – Logan Stojevich, John Bergman and Seth Laveau – along with five freshmen: Aaron Adkins, Jon Powers, Trent Olson, Kyle Laveau and Garrett Stazang.
The squad’s lone seventh-grader is Logan’s younger brother, Nathan Stojevich. Peter Granholm sits as the only senior on the roster.
Both teams practice at Pine Hill Golf Course in nearby Carlton, and also plan to practice at Black Bear Golf Course, as well.
“Pine Hill is a great short course for beginners, but at Black Bear we use the sand traps and driving range, too,” Herman said. “We don’t have our own course, but appreciate what people do for the kids. We have some competitive prospects.”
The Wrens were at Pine Hill on a chilly Tuesday afternoon preparing for their dual meet with Moose Lake-Willow River Friday in Moose Lake.
Barnum starts fresh, Moose Lake-Willow River returns as boys conference champions
Also without a home course is Barnum’s first-year program. According to Coach Cullen Franek, who golfed four years competitively in high school in Michigan, the Bombers haven’t had a golf program since some 30 years ago in the 1980s.
“We’re doing something that hasn’t been done in a long time here,” said Franek, a business teacher in Barnum, adding there are 17 kids out for both their boys and girls varsity teams this spring. “We’re excited and things have been going great. We want to make things fun here, because golf is a sport for a lifetime.”
Longtime Cloquet Country Club member and ML-WR Coach Steve Mokros agreed, noting that the expansion of the sport has been wonderful this spring.
“It’s nice to see golf making a comeback,” Mokros said. “I’m really happy for those guys. Rick [Herman] works hard with those kids in Wrenshall and Cullen [Franek] starting things up in Barnum is just great.”
Mokros has been at the Rebels’ helm for 10 years. He noted his boys and girls squads both look stellar, having not practiced indoors once this spring season.
“That’s the first time since I’ve been here,” Mokros said. “It’s been very nice.”
Mokros said his Great River Conference boys champions from a year ago will return Grant and Gabe Douglas, along with Jake Indihar, Stephen Gassert and Nathanial Koeck.
The girls team will see Samantha Schaumberg, Kayla Larson, Lindsay Loehlein and Alexis Babcock return to the links, too.
“We’ve played eight rounds already,” Mokros said of his squads, which both look to defend their Polar Cup titles this season. “I’ll have an assistant coach this year, too, with Deb Indihar.”
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton work together
Speaking of coaching, Cloquet, Esko and Carlton will combine to form their traditional CEC cooperative, welcoming a new boys coach, Afton Pender. The Cloquet guidance counselor played at Grand Rapids and participated collegiately at Concordia College Moorhead. Taking over for Tom McFarlane, Pender said this spring has gone smoothly.
“The guys are meshing together and things are going well,” Pender said Wednesday from her office. “We have gotten tons of rounds in and have some core guys who can score pretty low.”
Pender said 16 boys are on a CEC team that opens next week at Ashland. She noted Esko’s Marc Peterson and Nick Neve, along with Cloquet’s Brett Morrison, Eric Fryc and Zach Strom are all ones to contribute throughout the season.
Sue Northey will again coach the CEC girls squad, as the golf enthusiast explained Esko’s Cori Pelletier, Sarah Juntunen, Emily Gustafson and CJ Stoyanoff, as well as Cloquet’s Rachel Morrison and Arica Sheff will all head the team. The Lumberjacks open at Becker this week, along with Pine City and Ashland the following week. Mary Weets will also assist with coaching duties.
“It’s a great group of kids,” Northey said of the 16 players on the roster this spring. “Some are very passionate about the sport and others are new to the game. We’re helping expand the game of golf and we’re really excited.”