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2014 Spring Preview: East Ridge boys golf team shooting for state

The East Ridge boys golf team should be a contender this spring, but it does have some shoes to fill.

Last year, East Ridge won the Suburban East Conference championship tournament and finished second in the final SEC standings and in the Section 3AAA tourney. But, the team graduated three of its top golfers, including one of the best golfers in the state in Brady Hanson.

“I have some strong players this year again,” said Bret Brookins, who enters his fifth year at the helm of the Raptors. “I believe they can be very successful if they focus, practice hard, play the shot at hand and push each other.”

In 2013, East Ridge shot a 296 at Indian Hills to win the conference tournament, but finished in second place overall to Hastings. Hastings also edged the Raptors at the section tournament – by two shots – to advance to state.

Hanson was East Ridge’s lone golfer to reach the state tournament a year ago. Hanson, who is currently playing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, won the Section 3AAA individual championship title to qualify for a second straight state tournament then went on to finish in a tie for second place at the Class AAA state tournament, shooting a two-day 146 at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids. In addition to saying good-bye to Hanson, the team also lost Travis Dorf, who is currently playing at Concordia-St. Paul and Logan Delaney, who is now attending Minnesota State-Mankato, to graduation.

The team does bring back a good group of golfers however.

East Ridge will be captained by senior Jack Caron and junior John Haering. Another key returning player will be senior Sam Cowley.

“Even though this sport is played a individually they must work as a team to win as a team,” Brookins said. “They must push each other in practice and on the course to make sure they compete at the highest level.”

East Ridge also adds freshman Jack Richardson to the mix this season. Brookins said Richardson, who stands roughly 6-foot, 3-inches tall has a “very big, strong swing.”

“Jack should be a nice addition this year,” Brookins said. “Over the last couple years he’s played at all levels for us and played many tournaments in the summer. He worked hard every day at Prestwick to improve his game. His determination to be the best, undoubtedly, will make him better. Even though he’s young, I believe, he is going to be successful and a vital part of the future success of this team.”

Hastings, which returns its six best players from last year, is expected to be the team to beat in the conference. Forest Lake, Stillwater and White Bear Lake are expected to be tough, too. Hastings moved out of Section 3AAA, though, so Brookins said he believes it’s “open to many of the teams.”

East Ridge is set to open the season in Wisconsin Dells on April 11-12. Conference play is scheduled to start on April 14 at North Oaks Golf Club.

“We’re looking forward to getting on the course,” Brookins said. “I believe in these young men and know what they are capable of.”

—Patrick Johnson

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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