Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Badger golfers starting from scratch

by Mike Ramczyk

April 12, 2012

With big names like Alex Gaugert, Austin Gaugert, Ryan Garske and Chad Henry no longer around, the Badger boys golf squad finds itself in an unusual mode this spring — rebuilding.

For the last four seasons, star golfers helped catapult the Badgers to high school supremacy. The Badgers have made four straight team state trips and have won the Southern Lakes Conference three of the last four seasons.

While both Gaugerts are playing Division 1 college golf, Henry and Garske led the boys to regional and sectional titles and an eighth-place finish at state last season. Henry and Garske were both all-state selections.

This year, Badger must replace all five of its top golfers, including Garske, Henry, Brendan Gruenwald-Schmitz, Chris Georgalas and Michael Schlehlein, and start all over. Badger coach David DeShambo, now in his sixth season, said it will be a learning experience.

“It will definitely be a rebuilding year for Badger,” he said. “I think it is going to be a learning year for most of our guys. We don’t have a single player who has played a single varsity match. It will be interesting to see how they are able to adjust to playing with top-level competition. I think we have the potential, but it will take some time to gain the experience necessary to be consistent.”

Badger will rely on a fresh crop of newcomers this season, led by juniors Hayden Hochevar and Keith Schwefel. Other first-timers to varsity will include senior Peter Karr; sophomores Tom Schneider and Tyler Hall; and freshmen Adam Evans and Jesse Bonney.

“We have a really great group of young players,” DeShambo said. “We need experience, plain and simple. We have a great group of hard working boys that really love the game and have a strong desire to improve. I am certain we will see great improvement by the end of the season. But the most crucial thing we need is experience. The boys need to play competitive golf.”

While there will be changes among the athletes, the coaching staff will also look different this spring. David Owens takes over as the junior varsity coach. After 20 years with the program, Jim Gaugert is stepping down as the junior varsity coach. DeShambo said Gaugert will continue to work with the kids extensively as a volunteer.

Waterford is the defending Southern Lakes champion. According to DeShambo, it will be difficult to capture the team’s fourth conference title in five years.

“I am predicting a middle of the pack finish for us in the conference,” he said. “It will take this season to get some competition under our belts and deal with the pressure of the varsity level.”

This season, the Southern Lakes Conference is changing its dual meet schedule. Instead of seven dual meets for each team, there will be four majors which will include all eight teams. These will determine conference standings.

“It is more equitable and saves on travel time,” DeShambo said. “And it’s good for courses because each school hosts once every two years. We don’t have to go to so many different places for SLC meets.”

With a rebuilding season, DeShambo acknowledged that times could get tough. He said the mental aspect will be just as critical as the team’s scores this season.

“Staying positive will be our biggest challenge,” DeShambo said. “This team is definitely going to have ups and downs, and we need to stay positive and look for ways to improve each time out.”

Badger opens its season with the Sheboygan Invite at Whistling Straits in Kohler Wednesday, April 11. The Badgers will get a look at Southern Lakes teams April 17. DeShambo said those results will help set the tone for the season.

As for the beginning of the season, DeShambo is keeping it simple.

“I would like to see some consistency,” he said. “I know this team is not going to shoot the scores that the teams of the past five years have shot. The players’ ability to play consistent will be a key factor in our ability to improve as a team.”