NEW ULM - To say that the New Ulm boys golf team is pretty deep would be an understatement.
The Eagles have seven golfers that average an 83 or better on an 18-hole course. That depth really helped out when the Eagles lost one of their top golfers, Kelton Schmitz, to a broken wrist following the subsection meet a few weeks ago.
The Eagles managed to fill in Schmitz's void and advanced to the Class AA State Tournament, which will begin today at Sand Creek in Jordan.
The Eagles are making their first-ever trip to the state tournament as a team, and the tournament action begins today when New Ulm's Colin Huffman tees off at 7:30 a.m.
New Ulm coach Dan Janke has had this group of golfers the past couple of years. He said that he could see them get better and better as the pressure built throughout the season, and one example was when the Eagles took a slim lead after nine holes at the Section 2AA meet in New Prague over Mankato East and turned it into a 17-stroke victory.
"I've had these guys over the past few years, and the difference is their maturity level from year to year," Janke said.?"Knowing where they're at and not trying to make up for a bad hole, they don't say 'I gotta make up for it with an incredible shot,' they just put it behind them and keep moving on."
Losing Schmitz would be devastating for a lot of teams. He's qualified for state as an individual and this year he averaged a 79, the best average on the team.
"When I?had to make the decision on which guy was going to be No. 7 and move up [to the Top 6 on the varsity team] and get the opportunity to play, I realized that whoever it may be, would be the No. 1 player on a lot of teams. It's an unfortunate situation with Kelton going down, but I knew we would be alright."
Huffman tees off at 7:30 a.m. on Hole 10, followed by Tanner Zupfer (7:39 a.m.), Josh Cooper (7:48 a.m.), Matt Saffert (7:57 a.m.), Ethan Kraus (8:06 a.m.) and Jonah Cooper (8:15 a.m.).
"They're excited, they were excited to win [the Section 2AA meet] but they're excited to shoot the kind of score that is up there with the top teams in the state."
Class A meet in Becker
Three Class A boys golfers from the area and six girls will also participate in the Class A meet beginning at 7:30 a.m. today in Becker.
New Ulm Cathedral's Brooke Dummer qualified and will tee off at 12:54 p.m. today on the Red Course. Springfield's Shelby Schultz and Sleepy Eye's Karrah Remus are in the same group and they will tee off at 1:12 p.m. on the Red Course and Sleepy Eye's Lauren Laffen will tee off at 1:21 p.m. on the Red Course. Emily Curtis, also of Sleepy Eye, will tee off at 1:30 p.m. today on the Red Course. The Indians went to state last year and were led by Curtis, who finished with a two-day total of 183.
Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart's Carly Schmalz will be the area golfer to watch. She finished 13th in the state last year with a score of 175 and she tees off at 1:21 p.m. on the White Course.