FAIRMONT - With a majority of the South Central Conference boys golf teams losing their top players from last year due to graduation, Fairmont head coach Brad Haugen is hoping to capitalize: The Cards only lost one player from 2012.
Seniors Josh Baldus and Carter Welchlin will provide a tough 1-2 scoring punch for the Cardinals, while sophomore Joe Nordquist and junior Cole Huinker will see more action at the varsity level this spring.
Baldus, an all-SCC golfer last year, is coming off a Section 2AA, South Sub-Section championship and a 26th-place finish at the Class AA State Meet last season.
BACK?IN THE SWING — Members of the Fairmont Cardinal boys golf team scheduled to open the season against the Jackson County Central Huskies today at the Jackson Country Club include, front row (l-r): Reilly Hoefker, Nick Bremer, Casey Kotewa, Josh Liljenquist, Austin Phillip, Carter Kotewa, Trevor Iverson, Hoang Nguyen and Colton Wills. Back row: Caleb Johnson, Scott Madsen, Dustin Meyer, Josh Baldus, Cole Huinker, Hunter Jorgensen, Joe Nordquist, Sam Havnen and Carter Welchlin. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Baldus is the only player remaining from the Cardinals' 2010 Class AA sixth-place state team. He is hoping to complete his career the way it started.
"For Josh, it's always about getting back into the rhythm of the game again," Haugen said. "Last year, he started out strong, and then a foot injury in the middle of the season slowed him down. This season, he's healthy and looking to contend for the state title this year."
Baldus will receive scoring support from Welchlin, who comes off an all-conference season and fourth-place finishes in both the SCC Meet and Section 2AA, South Sub-Section Meet.
"Carter will look to be our No. 2 guy, but he'll need to work on his consistency from hole-to-hole and just work to manage his rounds," said Haugen. "One bad hole isn't going to be a bad thing, but keeping it to one or two holes will be important for him and the team."
With added consistency, Welchlin is hoping to make the state tournament during his final season.
Nordquist, a sophomore, is looking to make even more of a varsity contribution after finishing last year's golf season on the varsity squad.
"Joe contributed some varsity scores for us last season, especially at the end of the year. But he'll be stepping up and most likely taking the third spot for us this year, so it'll be a little higher expectations," said Haugen.
Nordquist has seen plenty of varsity experience in his other sports, playing for both the Fairmont Area boys soccer and hockey varsity teams this year.
Huinker is the final returning Cardinal off of last year's team that will fill out the roster. After a late season swing adjustment, Huinker is hoping to be stronger than ever.
"Huinker was our sixth man last year. We made that swing adjustment and he started to be more consistent. This year, he knows what he needs to do to continue to improve and hopefully be a good scorer for us," said Haugen.
Derek Hohensee, Marcus Weibe, Josh Hartwig, Colton Cunning and Sam Havnen will be in the rotation for the final varsity roster spots, giving Haugen plenty of options.
"We have 27 guys out this season and 12 freshmen. Consistency will be the key for us to whether or not we are successful this season," said Haugen.
Along with developing consistency, Haugen also understands that despite having some quality players back to his varsity lineup, he will also need contributions from the younger group.
"As a coach, you want the younger players to understand that we need nice solid rounds from them, and if someone has a bad round, they can fill right in," said Haugen. "There will be some adjusting that happens, for the guys that have played mostly JV, but this year almost everyone in the conference has a lot of young guys playing, so that'll help us."
New Ulm looks to be Fairmont's toughest challenge - besides the weather this season - and the Cardinals will host the Eagles at Interlaken Golf Club on Monday, April 22.
With weather permitting, Fairmont will have its first meet of the season against Jackson County Central at 3:45 p.m. today at the Jackson Country Club.
"We've been outside hitting on the soccer fields, working on the shots from 100 yards and in, but it would be nice to get the weather to cooperate so we can start the season," said Haugen.