NEW ULM - Friday may have been a less than ideal day to be outside, but the Minnesota Valley Lutheran golf team was excited to head out to Mayflower Country Club for its first outdoor practice of the season.
The Chargers have accepted that they will likely have to get used to braving the conditions throughout the spring, starting with their season-opening meet on Tuesday at Springfield.
"I think we're realizing this is kind of how it's gonna be, so we've just gotta get used to playing in it," senior Chrissy Biedenbender said. "We've had worse."
MVL returns some experienced players on both the girls' and boys' squads, but will also have to rely on some younger players to learn throughout the season and be ready to make significant contributions both this season and in coming years.
MVL girls have four
seniors ready to lead
For the four seniors on the Minnesota Valley Lutheran girls' golf team, they're prepared to play the dual role of player and golf instructor this season as the team welcomes a number of younger players to its ranks.
"In practice, especially with the freshmen, if they have any questions, us three or Coach Morgan will probably be the ones they come to," senior Mariah Schoof said. "We'll just tell them what we do, and if it works for them they can copy it and use it."
The team's four seniors - Schoof, Biedenbender, Laura Albrecht and Michaela Otterstatter - all return with prior varsity experience, with most of them having been on the team since they were freshmen. Though they will likely be relied on to lead the team in competitions, the team's varsity lineup is far from being set.
"Anybody could hop into that group, it won't just be the seniors," Morgan said. "But it is a good group of seniors. We'll see how everything plays out and how everybody scores."
Junior Abby Trebelhorn and sophomores Allison Lease and Katelyn Hardtke also enter the season with varsity experience under their belts.
The team isn't sure what it will look like yet once it starts reaching its groove, but Biedenbender voiced her hope that the players will "just be consistent with scoring" so that the team can be competitive when it starts playing in meets.
"I think our team would like to win a meet," Schoof said. "We are very young, and it's hard, a lot of the other schools are very experienced this year. I think a goal for us would be to win a meet, that would be awesome."
Though the new golfers will have to overcome obstacles such as learning the more complicated rules of golf, the seniors said that they will encourage the younger players to stay calm and just have fun as they learn the game.
"I think they're all expecting it to be very serious, and, 'I have to know every single rule of golf,' but really, your group helps you and you learn as you go," Schoof said.
"It all just takes practice, and everyone finds their own way to do things, I guess," Biedenbender added.
The seniors realize that once they graduate, it will be up to the younger players to take the reigns of the team next year, meaning they have an important task to accomplish this season.
"Setting the tone for next year," Albrecht said. "Just kind of building for next year, so when we're all gone they can fill our spots."
The seniors will miss the team aspect of playing golf once the season is over, but they are already hatching plans for reunions at Mayflower, where they can play their old home course again and recall stories from what will hopefully be a very successful senior season.
"It's going to be sad, I think, because we've all taught each other so much through golf," Schoof said of playing in her final season. "It's fun - the bus rides, and the meets. It will be sad when it's over, but we're going to try to cherish it while we have it."
Grunewald, Hoffman lead MVL boys
Last year the Minnesota Valley Lutheran boys' golf team had few players, but had a number of talented seniors.
This season the team has grown in size, but it only returns two seniors - Corey Hoffman and Ryker Meyer. However, the team also returns Jacob Grunewald, who is expected to fill in at the No. 1 slot following the graduation of the team's top two golfers from last year, Ben Moldstad and Nate Siemers.
"Leading off for us will be Jake Grunewald," Morgan said. "Jake will play a big role as probably our No. 1 golfer. Corey will be right up there in the top two or three."
Sophomore Caleb Dinse earned some varsity experience last year and Morgan is looking for sophomore Aaron Pietsch to step up after having played at the JV level last year. The team will also gain a group of freshmen that Morgan hopes will provide some nice surprises.
"We're basically a pretty inexperienced group, with the exception of Jake and Corey, who've played varsity for a couple of years," Morgan said. "We'll see how our young guys come through - we've got a good group of sophomores and freshmen."
With a total of 12 players on the team, the Chargers will have the benefit of having a full B-squad that will give the new golfers on the team a chance to gain some experience.
"We've got some people who haven't played at all, they're just starting, so they'll play some B-Squad and get some minutes and some confidence," Morgan said. "We'll try to do the best we can and look for improvement each match."
The team finally had its first practice outside of the gym on Friday, so it will take a while for the players to get fully acclimated to certain things - such as finding the speed of the greens after having only practiced putting on carpet so far.
Although conditions are nice enough to finally get out on the course, Morgan feels that his players will have to get used to the extra difficulty of adjusting to bad weather throughout much of its competitive schedule.
"I think this spring is going to be one of those springs that we're just going to have bad weather no matter what," Morgan said. "We're just going to have to tough it out."