Posted 4/13/11 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
Learning to improvise.
That has been the technique that Scott Wisness has had to use this spring to get his boys golf team ready for the spring golf season.
With the Watford City Golf Course still closed and the course’s driving range also buried under snow, Wisness’ golf squad has seen very little practice time.
“Even though the golf course is still closed, we were able to start practice on March 29,” states Wisness. “We set up hitting mats in the elementary gym and were able to get them swinging a little bit. My Ag Mechanics class built a practice putting green that we have used as well. Golf practice inside isn’t ideal, but we have done what we can.”
While Wisness is concerned with his team not being able to get onto the course, he is confident that his experienced team will be ready to golf when their season starts.
“They are a very committed group that I know will put in the extra practice time when it’s open,” states Wisness. “Just like the rest of us, they can’t wait to get on the golf course.”
Likewise, new girls head coach Kelli Jo Taylor knows that until the weather allows her girls team to get outside, there isn’t much she can do about it.
“We know that most teams in our region are all in the same boat as us,” states Taylor. “The girls are getting very excited to get out on the course and play.”
Returning veterans for Wisness this season will be Nick Liebel, Chris Larsen, Colter Maki, Mitchell Liebel, Alex Hansen and Kalen Hartel.
Nick Liebel, who placed second at State in 2009 and 3rd last season will anchor the Wolves’ squad this season, and is again expected to be among the state’s best.
“Nick, a senior, was in the top five in every meet last year, and he has his goals set high his senior season,” states Wisness.
Larsen is another returning senior whom Wisness is hoping will qualify for State.
“Chris has a lot of experience,” states Wisness. “He golfed in the mid-40s most of last season and has a goal to golf more consistently in the low 40s and qualify himself for State this year.”
Colter Maki, according to Wisness, is a freshman who came on strong toward the end of last season and who put in a lot of work during the off-season.
Mitchell Liebel is another freshman who golfed varsity all season last year, and according to Wisness, really came through for the team at tournament time.
Alex Hansen, a sophomore, will see limited playing time this season because of a hockey injury.
“Alex put in a lot of time at the golf course and can hit the ball far,” states Wisness.
Rounding out the varsity team will be Kalen Hartel, a sophomore, who gained good experience on the varsity last season.
“Last season was a pleasant surprise when we snuck into the State Tournament by placing third at Regionals,” stated Wisness. “The team placed 11th out of 16 teams at State, which was a great experience for the young team.”
And Wisness looks at building on last year’s State experience.
“With everyone back this year, our team has its goals set high,” says Wisness. “Each golfer has their own individual goals, and if they can reach them, we could be fighting for the top spot in the region.”
Lewis & Clark-Berthold and Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood will be the top teams to beat this season. Stanley and New Town-Parshall also return a lot of golfers from last year.
“Nick will be our leader and needs to step up big this year,” says Wisness. “But the success of our team depends on the #2 through #5 spots. If those individuals can consistently golf in the low 40s, we will fight for a Region Championship, and even for one of the top spots in State.”
The Wolves hope to open their season when they travel to Beulah on April 26 before hosting a tournament on April 29.
“This crazy winter and spring has made scheduling very difficult,” says Wisness. “Most of the meets during the first two weeks have already been rescheduled, and they are scrambling to find an open date. With good weather these next few weeks, we hope to have a regular schedule after that.”
On the girls side, Taylor has Emilie Anderson, who played in last year’s State Tournament returning as well as returners Bessie Schmitz, Shaunta Miller, Allison Monsen, Taylor Dwyer and Jayden C. White Owl.
“We should have a good season,” states Taylor. “It’s great to have so many new golfers out this year who will really push each other to get better as they all have a chance to earn a spot on the varsity team.”