Golfers using 2002 as learning tool
By Dan Truttschel
Lake Geneva Regional News
The Badger golf team found itself in an unusual position last year when it finished last in the Lakeshore Conference Meet.
Badger is determined not to repeat history in 2003.
The Badgers return six letterwinners from the team that posted a 3-4 overall record. Badger was 3-3 in Lakeshore dual meets.
"Hopefully, the struggles that we had last year will pay dividends this year in the fact that they learned from those mistakes," Badger coach George Steffen said.
"Only time will tell if the inconsistency that we showed last year can be reduced just by the fact that they played some varsity meets. Hopefully that will work out that way."
A high turnout that began with 65 players at the preseason meeting and dropped to 50 for the first practice forced Steffen to trim the roster to its current number of 37.
That was a move that had to be made, he said, to make the situation more manageable from a coaching standpoint and for Hillmoor Golf Course.
"It's nice to see the interest, but it's also difficult to have 50 or 60 kids on a golf course where we're not paying for each kid and the public wants to eventually get on there," Steffen said.
"To make it more manageable and to give kids attention, we had to get down to smaller numbers. It was an agreement between (Hillmoor Professional) Jim (Gaugert) and myself."
The bright side of the equation, Steffen said, is the number of freshmen who joined the program this year.
"The real great thing is that we did have 19 freshmen come out," he said. "It looks like there's quite a few solid players. We won't be searching to find golfers (in the future). That's a great problem to have."
Returning to the program after they earned a letter a year ago are seniors Shane McKinley and Mike Solus; juniors Eric Bjorkman and Ryan Peck; and sophomores Nathan Braatz and Lee Jensen.
Peck recorded the top score among the returning players at last year's conference meet, as he posted a round of 90. Solus was next with a 91, followed by Bjorkman with a 107 and McKinley with a 110.
Both Solus and McKinley look solid in the early going, Steffen said.
"Mike is looking real good," Steffen said. "He did play last summer and worked at a golf course, so I am looking for good things for him. I think he'll have a steady season.
"Shane was the most improved player last year, so if he builds on that (he'll have success). Hopefully, those two guys will lead by example."
Peck returns after he posted an average of 46.39, second behind only graduate Brian Kaminski's 42.39.
"He has talent, he just has to work on the mental part of the game as far as not letting one or two bad shots turning into one bad hole or more than one bad hole," Steffen said.
"He has the tools. Hopefully, he'll again be one of our top people and one of the top people in the conference."
Steffen said he doesn't select captains, but expects the team's leaders to surface as the season rolls along.
"Those kids will lead by example," he said. "We're still looking for that to happen. It's still real early."
Seeking their first varsity letter are seniors Craig Cook and Michael S. Johnson; juniors Andrew Collins, Ryan Kamps and Tyler Koch; sophomores Leslie Kupsik, Jackie Marciniw, Billy Peterburs, Megan Pflueger and Zach Ruhnke; and
Freshmen Billy Boehland, Abby Braatz, Jake Bush, Steve Chagdes, Zane Covell, Tim Fesenmaier, Andrew Gramm, Kevin Keegan, Adam Krueger, Jake Lasch, Nick Lentz, Mike Mungo, George Reuss, Ryan Reuss, Michael Smith, Joseph Solus and Aaron Stricker.
Westosha Central should be the team to beat in the race for the Lakeshore Conference title, Steffen said, as the Falcons return all but one of their varsity players from a year ago.
The Falcons won the title a year ago with a 317, followed by St. Catherine's with a 327 and Kenosha St. Joseph's with a 336.
"(Westosha) will be there when the lights are shining in the end," Steffen said. "They're solid. Right now, they're on a roll."
Wilmot should push Westosha and also could be a contender for the crown, Steffen said.
As far as the Badgers, Steffen said he hopes to improve at least to the middle of the standings if not higher.
The potential is there for that to happen, he said.
"The upside on all of these guys is huge," Steffen said. "That's the thing that's good. They all know they can do a lot better than they did last year.
"I'm expecting improvement. It's just a matter of whether it's a big enough improvement to get us to be a contender or if we'll just be sort of a middle-of-the-road team again. It really is in their hands."
Steffen, who is entering his 15th season with the program, is assisted this year by Gaugert and volunteers John Roth and Sam Bresler.
Steffen is retiring from his teaching position at the end of the current school year, but said he hopes to continue coaching the Badgers in 2004.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," Steffen said.