High school golf season set to tee off

Ray Maloney, Sports

After finishing at or near the bottom of the team standings at every meet last season, expectations are running high for a stronger showing by the Devils Lake High School girls golf team in 2010.

The Firebirds began practice Monday under the hot sun that drenched the area and coach Dave Kerlin is optimistic as his young squad embarks on another season.

“We all sat down together and set some goals for ourselves as individuals and as a team,” said Kerlin, whose team opens play Aug. 16-17 at the East-West Classic at the Jamestown Country Club.

“Hopefully we can achieve the goals we set out,” Kerlin added.

One of the main goals for Kerlin and his squad of six golfers is to lower their scores from last season.

Jennifer Brandt, a junior this year, was the team leader for most of the season a year ago. She finished the season with an average of 102, according to Kerlin, who hopes Brandt, along with each of the other golfers, sees an improvement in their scores.

Cassie Dahlen and Bethany Hanson both finished just behind Brandt with 2009 averages of 103 and 105, respectively.

The Devils Lake coach expects those numbers to drop with a year of rugged competition to their credit as the Firebirds faced Eastern Dakota Conference teams on a regular basis a year ago.

Dahlen is beginning her freshman year at DLHS, while Hanson will be a junior when classes begin later this month.

Katie Brandt, another young freshman, who averaged 110 last season for the Firebirds, is also expected to show marked improvement beginning

Monday in the season opener.

Kerlin is also optimistic his final two golfers, both young underclassmen, will also show improvement this season.

Ashley Otto and Mallory Vose are two linksters whose steady improvement could help Devils Lake continue to climb the ladder in the team standings at the seven regular season tournaments slated before the EDC tournament and state tournaments are held to close the season.

“(Otto) could be a surprise,” Kerlin said. “She can really hit the ball. If she is able to put together a putting game, like I am sure she can, she’s capable of having an outstanding season.”

Kerlin, in addition to seeing great improvements from his young team, also sees plenty of changes in store throughout the EDC?this season, which may even lead to a few of his golfers landing a spot in the state tournament in October.

The Devils Lake coach looks at Fargo Shanley as the team to beat in the EDC this season as the Deacons returns all but one of their players from last season.

The league, long dominant in girls golf in North Dakota, will undergo some changes when the season opens Monday in Jamestown. Two new schools will be added to the roster as former EDC foe Valley City returns to the mix and Fargo Davies begins its first season of varsity competition.

The addition of Davies also means that traditional power Fargo South may fall back of its usual perch near the top of the elite in the EDC.

“I think many of (Davies’) golfers will be sophomores,” Kerlin said. “But, with them moving over from Fargo South, that may make for a better race throughout the conference.

“If Davies happens to get six golfers to compete each time out ... well, we’ll see how things play out and what happens,” Kerlin added.