Saying goodbye to seniors is always difficult for area sports teams, but what if those seniors make up almost the entirety of your varsity roster?
Thus is true for the Mayer Lutheran boys’ golf team and, after a successful 2014 season that saw a conference championship, the Crusaders will have some big holes to fill next year. Mayer Lutheran had seven seniors this season in Chad Anenson, Mathew Davis, Matt Huinker, Anthony Gruenhagen, Rob Ryan, Brandon Wroge, and Joe Zittergruen, all of whom saw time on the varsity green.
“I will miss too many graduating seniors this year … four or five of our starting varsity players depending on the week,” LHS head coach Jerry Jensen said. “They are all great kids and I will personally miss each one.”
With an experienced squad set for the 2014 season, the Crusaders had their eyes on a prize – an MRC Championship – early in the season, after finishing as runners up in 2013. Mayer Lutheran kicked off the season with a 12th place finish in the Harry O’Connor invitational hosted by Shattuck-St. Mary’s, one of their best finishes at that meet in recent years.
The Crusaders won the first meeting of the Minnesota River Conference teams on April 15 in Belle Plaine, with Wroge as the medalist, establishing themselves as conference leaders, never to relinquish their lead during the remainder of the season.
Despite a second place MRC finish at Glencoe on April 21, the Crusaders stayed atop the conference and went on to win an MRC meet at home on May 6, at Montgomery on May 13, and the front nine of the MRC championships on May 19 in Belle Plaine. Mayer Lutheran finished third on the back nine at Valley View, but held out for the conference championship title.
The Crusaders had three players earn All-Conference honors including individual conference champion Rob Ryan, who was the medalist at three different meets during the year. Zittergruen, who finished third in the conference and captured All-Conference honors, was also a three-time medalist during the regular season. Junior Andrew Wolf also snagged All-Conference honors by finishing seventh in the individual standings.
Outside of MRC competition, the Crusaders also defeated St. Peter at home in late April and won a triangular in Faribault mid-May.
At the Section 4AA competition in late May, the Crusaders sent a loaded squad to the competition, and finished eighth as a team on Day 1. Ryan and Wolf advanced to the second day, but fell short of qualifying for state.
With all their achievements this season, Jensen said the Crusaders had many highlights, including the conference championship, three All-Conference golfers, the chance to play at the White Bear Yacht Club, defeating Shattuck-St. Mary’s and Faribault, shooting their lowest team score in years (325), and seeing several players with career-best rounds, including Zittergruen (73) and Wolf (81).
With the departure of so many seniors, Jensen will be looking to the returning varsity players for their experience and leadership in 2015.
“Looking for returning lettermen Andrew Wolf and Dylan Fisher, along with Monte Monchamp to help anchor the team along with our four additional first year players,” Jensen said.
The Mayer Lutheran girls’ team may not have seen the success of their male counterparts, but the six-member squad took big strides in establishing a tradition of girls’ golf at LHS.
As the season progressed, the Crusader girls were able to begin fielding complete rosters for MRC meets and finished sixth of seven teams on May 5.
In the end, the Mayer Lutheran girls’ were sixth in the final MRC standings. Freshman Addie Luehrs was the Crusaders’ top finisher in multiple meets this season, but Katelyn Stanley, Debbie Johnson, and Maggie Knoll also saw team-high scores.
Knoll is the sole senior for the Crusader girls, so if all bodes well, Johnson will return as a senior next season, along with Luehrs, Stanley, Elli Martin, and Mireille Ghassan, who will all be sophomores.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]