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Golf: East Ridge, Park, New Life gear up for golf season

New Life Academy's Cole Witherow shot a 67 on the second day of the Section 4AA tournament, and a 145 over both days, last year. File photo1 / 3
Park's Keegan Oberding chips onto the green to wrap up his day in the Section 3AAA tournament last year. File photo2 / 3
East Ridge's Lindsey Spolidoro teed off during a match last year. File photo3 / 3

East Ridge

Boys

The East Ridge boys' golf team is looking to continue building from last season as head coach Bret Brookins hopes for the very best each time out.

"Most importantly, I want our guys to play their best golf," Brookins said. "If they do that, then I will be happy as a coach."

The Raptors will bring back four of their six starters from last season, but Brookins has been impressed by everyone's skills so early in the season.

Brookins said that many of the golfers were either at the dome swinging or played in leagues throughout the country. He knows that there will be plenty of competition all season long.

"I have three seniors that are returning on varsity and it's great to see their growth," Brookins said. "That growth is in both skills and leadership and it helps me because they understand the process. They want to continue on the legacy of this program and it shows each day in practice."

The goal for this season is to string two section days instead of one. Brookins said the first day went well for the Raptors last season, but the second day wasn't what they were hoping for.

The team wants to push and fight in that second day and try to earn a spot to state as a team. Brookins is fully confident this team has the talent and mindset to achieve these goals.

Girls

Head coach Kathy Madden is happy with the turnout for girls' golf at East Ridge as the numbers continue to rise. She knows that only helps the future of the program.

Similar to the boys' team, the girls are looking for consistency in both days of section play. For the seniors, they are looking to leave an impact on the program for future years to come.

"We learned about the golf program from the seniors when we were freshmen," said senior Kennedy Uzpen. "During our senior year, we want to make sure the younger girls understand what we were taught and that continues for years to come."

Madden will be looking to Uzpen and senior Lindsey Spolidoro for leadership on the course and at practices. Madden is confident these two girls will help the rest of the players as they prepare for a tough regular season.

The girls understand their conference and section is not the easiest to play in, but they are ready for the challenge.

"We can't wait to get out on the course and play strong golf," Spolidoro said. "We've been working hard these last couple of weeks at practice and hopefully it'll show in our first match of the season."

The first match is still to come for the Raptors and, until then, Madden is going to help the girls inside with skills and techniques in preparation for the season.

"I'm looking forward to this season," Madden said. "It should be a fun time with every girl competing hard each day."

Park

Boys

The future's looking bright for the Park boys' golf team as they prepare for a strong 2019 season. With a handful of returners coming back this season, head coach Chad Salay is looking to continue building from last year.

Park will be competing for a top spot in the conference and the Wolfpack will have a tough schedule for the regular season. Along with conference, Park will not have an easy task for the section tournament either as it's just as competitive as the conference.

The Wolfpack already had their first match of the season, in which they played in the top five to start off the season. It was a confidence boost for Park as they wait for the snow to melt and they can play their second match of the season.

Girls

Head coach Bay Shock is happy to see some familiar faces on the Park girls' golf team once again. There are many returners on the team, which raises the goals and expectations for the Wolfpack this season.

"These girls are continuing to build their skills in the first couple weeks of practice," Shock said. "It's been fun to watch and I know it'll continue to keep building as the season continues."

The girls all know each other from other sports throughout the school year, so the team chemistry is already there. Now, the girls are just enjoying some nice days on the golf course together.

"A lot of us play hockey together in the winter, so we always look forward to the spring and continuing to be on a team together," said Emily Waldo. "I'm sure that will help us during the season with encouraging each other on the course."

Along with veterans back on the team, Shock said the junior varsity team is looking strong. That aspect of the program makes Shock smile because he knows there's competition for a varsity spot, and the program will continue to build when the seniors graduate.

Right now, Shock and the players are focused on the upcoming season. Shock said he could see many of the girls reach the second day of sections as individuals, and even the whole team too.

Shock isn't the only person that's noticed improvement from every girl and, for Carissa Oberding, it's going to allow the team to compete in any match this season.

"Each player has been working hard at the range and in the dome," Oberding said. "We know how important this season is for all of us and we want to play as hard as we can."

New Life

Boys

The New Life boys' golf team will look to build off a strong season last year into the 2019 season.

"I'm excited to see so many people playing this season and continuing to build this program," said senior Jackson George. "We have some players coming back this season and I'm hoping that experience will help us throughout the season at different golf courses."

The goal this season is to have every player reach the second day of sections and compete hard in each match along the way.

Head coach Greg Tietz said he's excited to see the growth of his team because the boys had a strong push to conclude 2018. Now, the team is ready to make some strides in section play and end the season on a high note for these handful of seniors.

"This team has become a family during the offseason and into the first few practices this year," Tietz said. "It's been fun to see these players help each other with shots or yardages because you're already noticing they are improving each and every day."

Girls

The New Life girls' golf team has many new faces and a higher turnout from previous seasons. The program is continuing to grow and senior captains Claire Wallerick and Anna Bettmann are looking to make this season a memorable one.

"Each player is looking to improve from last season and the new girls have been wanting to learn every day," Wallerick said. "This should only help us when we start playing matches this season."

The Eagles graduated some golfers last season, but there are some young and talented golfers rising in the program. Tietz is confident this team will continue to compete in each match even though there has been some changes to the starting lineup.

Along with growing the younger golfers for this season, the senior captains hope to make sure they are ready once they graduate this year. They want the legacy of the program to grow from season to season.

"We've learned a lot from this golf program and we want to continue to see that when we graduate," Bettmann said. "I'm just looking forward to a fun season ahead."

Brian Mozey

I am the sports writer for the Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin. I'm a graduate from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University and have always had a passion for sports since a young age. Whether it was watching or playing sports, I always knew sports would be in my career. I've been born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area throughout my time in this position. 

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