Despite losing a pair of individual state qualifiers to graduation, the Fairmont Cardinal boys golf team may be even stronger this season.
After hitting the baseball diamond for the last two seasons, senior Mitch Pfingsten returns to the links to lead an experienced core of golfers.
Pfingsten, who qualified for the state golf meet as a seventh- and eighth-grader, helped guide the Fairmont baseball team to a Class AA state bid as a sophomore and an appearance in the Section 3 finals last spring.
SETTING?THE?COURSE — Members of the Fairmont Cardinal boys golf lineup opening the season by competing in the Marshall Invitational today include, front row (l-r): Brian McFarland, Josh Hartwig, Colton Wills, Colton Cunning, Casey Kotewa and Bryan Grotte. Second row: Riley Higgins, Derrick Hohensee, Caleb Johnson, Joey Petersen, Sam Havnen, Reilly Hoefker and Trevor Iverson. Third row: Joe Nordquist, Ethan Mathews, Josh Liljenquist, Hunter Jorgensen, Trason Arens, Dustin Meyer and Cole Huinker. Back row: Derek Hunwardsen, Nick Bremer, Austin Philipp, Nick Roggow, Mitch Pfingsten and Ethan Lubenow. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"Having Mitch back on the golf course is going to really help our chances," said first-year Fairmont head coach John Korsmo. "We thought we had some good golfers back, and that we had a chance to be successful, but he makes us a very strong team."
Juniors Joe Nordquist and Sam Havnen, along with seniors Cole Huinker and Derrick Hohensee, look to compete for the top spots again this season.
Other additions to this year's squad include seniors Nick Roggow, Trason Arens and Riley Higgins, who will each compete for a top seven spot on the varsity.
"The guys we have coming back from last year really have a lot of experience. Joe was one of our top golfers last year and finished out the season well," said Korsmo. "And Havnen, Huinker and Hohensee all golfed on varsity and have section meet experience."
Fairmont will look to those returning golfers to take the place of Class AA state qualifier Carter Welchlin, who finished 60th in last year's tournament.
They also will look for low rounds to make up for the graduation of Josh Baldus, who placed 26th as a junior in the 2012 Class AA state golf meet.
The Cardinals will have to battle back-to-back South Central Conference champions New Ulm for the title this season, but their chances look promising.
The Eagles, however, return all four of their top golfers - Kelton Schmitz, Matt Saffert, Tanner Zupfer and Jonah Cooper.
With the help of assistant coaches Paul Baldus and Michelle Grotte, the 2014 Cardinals could be at the top of the SCC by season's end.
"When I came on as the head coach for both the boys and the girls teams, I really wanted to have them help me out. I'm not sure that I could have done this without them," said Korsmo. "I take care of a lot of administrative stuff, and Paul and Michelle do a great job of working with the kids on the things they need."
Fairmont tees off the season at the Marshall Invite today before hosting Jackson County Central on Monday at Interlaken Golf Club.