This year, Packers boys golf team has the drive
With a short spring sports season (some East Region tournaments kick off in two weeks) working out kinks early is critical for success.
By the look of things, the Packers boys golf team is doing just that.
After strong finishes in two conference and five total meets, West Fargo marches on with fixed determination and a single goal in mind: to compete with the best.
"We wanted to put some pressure on them," Packers co-coach Steve Anderson said of his team's preseason goals. "We wanted to contend."
The "them" Anderson spoke of is Fargo South, a perennial power in North Dakota. Though the Eastern Dakota Conference has ample talent across the board, beating the Bruins is West Fargo's No. 1 priority.
So far, the Packers are well on their way. They took second in their season-opening match April 19, at Kings Walk Golf Course in Grand Forks, before placing first last week during the West Fargo Invitational.
Momentum is key, especially if the Packers plan on usurping South. The Bruins have nearly matched the intensity of last season, finishing first at Kings Walk and second to the
Packers in West Fargo. It is no stretch to think South is well in the running for its 12th state title in 14 years.
But West Fargo is right there with them.
"I think they are getting a little excited," Anderson said of the Packers. "We did beat South one time last year, so they did get a bit of a taste of that. The (West Fargo Invitational) win kind of validated it."
The win over South so early in the season showed that the Packers "can play with them," Anderson said. "But that doesn't say we'll beat them every time. ... That's a tough call."
The Packers also took a nonconference win April 23-24, during the East-West Classic, their first tournament victory ever. Though the Bruins' first team was absent, it still was a measuring stick for meets to come, Anderson said.
"It's going to be competitive all year," he said.
West Fargo's top guns
If there is one thing to be said about the Packers this season, it's they have been consistent, something Anderson and co-coach Chuck Gad wanted from the start. West Fargo began last season with two fifth places and a seventh before going on a late-season stretch in which it placed no lower than second.
The Packers' top guns have been the reason for this year's slumpless start.
"I would think we would continue on to be pretty good down the stretch," Anderson said. "A key thing is, our top four players are shooting real well. You're not necessarily going to get that always, but if they keep doing that we'll have a good chance."
West Fargo's star coming into the season was Logan Palmer, and he hasn't disappointed. The junior leads his team with a 72.5 stroke average in conference play, and currently ranks third in the EDC behind South's Lucas Davison (71.5) and Shanley's Trent Olson (68).
"Logan has been real steady," Anderson said.
Second on the team behind Palmer is John Sund, who along with fellow senior Jared Cowden have being "playing well," Anderson said. The duo ranks fifth and sixth in the EDC, with Sund averaging 73.5 strokes and Cowden 74.
Rounding out the top four is sophomore Connor Holland, who "has been consistent," Anderson said. "We could see him going quite a bit lower, actually. We don't think he's even hit his stride yet."
Holland is ninth in the EDC with a 76.5-stroke average, and third with the Packers at 76.3 overall.
Palmer (72), Sund (74), Cowden (74) and Holland (76) all finished in the Top 10 during the West Fargo Invitational. Eighth grader Riley Johnson shot an 85, while junior Steve Moroz hit 86. The results were typical of how West Fargo has played so far, but Anderson said, with some tweaking, the Packers could be doing even better.
"We have a couple guys who get a lot of birdies, but negate them with penalty strokes," he said. "So if we could get rid of those penalties, we might see some lower scoring."
It will come down to repetition and practice. "They hit the ball so hard and so far," Anderson said. "Now we're getting down to control. Sometimes they might not always need to hit it so hard. They're good enough now to where we can tell them to hit it to a certain spot in order to line up the next shot."
West Fargo got a chance to see how the control is coming along Tuesday during the Fargo South Invitational at Rose Creek Golf Course (the results of which were not in by press time). The Packers play again Thursday at Moorhead before heading to Edgewood on May 7-8, for the Fargo North Invitational.
With what they've seen so far, Anderson and Gad are optimistic about the rest of the season. "Things are looking up," Anderson said. "We are very pleased where we are right now."
He noted, however, that finishing flawless isn't important.
"We wouldn't want to be going into the end of the year where we go first the whole way," Anderson said. "We want to peak at the end."