Nearly-intact team a boon for Merrill swingers
Coaches- Joe Mertens (2nd head, 5-yr. asst., prev. 6-yr. head), Bill Hauswirth (asst.), Wendell Quisenberry (asst.).
Last season’s accomplishments- 4th in Antigo reg., qual. sect., 7th Valley.
Major losses- Jared Hoffmann, Evan Connor.
Key returnees- srs. Coty Guenther, Mitchell Finnegan, Trevor Pike, Sam Lau; jrs. Michael Pagel (sect. qual.), Kevin Lee, Philip Guenther, Nathan Beyer, Ryan Marsceau, Dakota Monti, Aaron Wolff.
Promising newcomers- sr. Garrett Schmelling; jr. Shane July; frosh. Brett Woller, Brady Loos, Cole Severt, Conner Kleinschmidt, Tanner Pettit.
Mertens quotable- “Last season can best be summed up as a work and wait season. The boys kept working on their games waiting for the time when the varsity would all play well at the same time. This finally happened at regional when the varsity put together their best team total at the right time enabling them to advance to sectional play. Prior to this, the boys games were inconsistent from match to match, seeming to find the right stuff one day and the next unable to find it again. The team finished 7th in conference but felt they should have finished in a better position. Last years number 1 and 2 men Mike Pagel and Coty Guenther played similarly each taking turns as team leaders and will both be back this year.
“Other than Jared and Evan, we retained the remaining top six golfers in seniors Coty Guenther and Mitchell Finnegan, juniors Mike Pagel, Kevin Lee, and Noah Connor, and sophomores Philip Guenther and Ryan Marsceau.
“We have 20 golfers on the team this year, many of whom have shown the level of enthusiasm to play I am looking for as a coach. Open gym hitting has found some new names this year such as freshman Brade Loos, Conner Kleinschmidt and Brett Woller who have golfing experience and appear to be ready to find their place on the team. I anticipate our Bluejay team to be much more completive in the Valley this year. As a result we are planning on an improved conference standing.
“We are also looking forward to hosting our annual Bluejay Invitational again this year. The event is a 4-man, 2-man best ball team format which proves to be a great golfing experience for the players.
“Having the final leg of the seven-round conference tournament at our home course should lend itself well for the boys to play well and capture a respectable spot in their conference standing. The boys know the commitment needed to play on this golf team and the practices that require time and effort. They also know that school performance is also important in maintaining a balance between academics and sports participation at any level of athletics.
“With our new short game practice facility at the golf course completed and ready to be used this spring, the team is looking forward to more enjoyable and beneficial practice tradition.”