Maple Grove boys golf won the Class 3A state title in 2018 and, with just one starter back in 2019, made it back to state to take seventh overall.
Three starters and several others with experience were expected to help the Crimson go back to state in 2020, but the boys lost their season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The good news for Maple Grove is that juniors Weston Guili, Josh Galvin and Henry Nelson – who all played on the state team in 2019 – will all be seniors in 2021. Junior Lucas Feterl will also be back as a senior, and junior Will Karkoc – who was expected to crack the varsity lineup in 2020 – will also be a senior.
That leaves a senior-laden core that should bring another chance to have success in 2021 and make a run at state.
The bad news was the lost season of varsity high school competition and the missed opportunity of the lone senior on the team – Spencer Dahlquist.
Dahlquist wasn’t one of the top golfers on the team, but he was slated to be the No. 5 or No. 6 golfer to bring depth.
Coach John Schetinski said that Dahlquist was awesome for where he was in the lineup and would give his best on the course every time, even when things didn’t go well. He also said that Dahlquist got along great with the rest of the team.
“He definitely would have been a fun part of our team this year, and hopefully, we would have been in contention,” Schetinski said.
The top four in the lineup in 2020 were expected to be Galvin. Guili, Feterl and Nelson. Karkoc was in the mix for No. 5 and 6 with Dahlquist, and then there were youngsters like freshmen Jack Schrader, David Miller and Blake Forrest and eighth-grader Ryan Stendahl.
The Crimson didn’t have even one chance to play together as a team in 2020. Everything was shut down in mid-March, and by the time the season was officially canceled on April 23, the golf courses were just allowed to open by an executive order by Gov. Tim Walz.
But summer tournaments have been plentiful with several golfers getting out on the course.
Galvin was second with an even-par 144 (73-71) June 18-19 in a Player’s Tour event at Bunker Hills, and Feterl tied for eighth with a 7-over 151 (75-76) at Bunker Hills.
Karkoc tied for 19th with a 12-over 156 (83-73) at Bunker Hills, and he also tied for 15th with a 9-over 81 June 15 in Minnesota Junior PGA qualifier at The Links at Northfork.
Karkoc tied for first with a 1-over 145 (72-73) June 24-25 in a Player’s Tour event at Minnewaska Golf Course.
“I was excited for this year because they were on the state team and they played well,” Schetinski said. “I was just thinking this year, they’re shooting good numbers this year already in those events. It would have just been to see where they’d come from since last year.”
Stendahl and Forrest both qualified for the Minnesota Junior PGA Championship in the 13-15 boys division and both finished in the top 15 June 29-30 at the Minnesota Junior PGA Championship at Giant’s Ridge.
Stendahl was tied for eighth with an 8-over 152 (73-79), and Forrest was tied for 14th with an 11-over 155 (79-76).
Stendahl was third in the qualifier with a 3-over 74 June 23 at Manitou Ridge Golf Course, and Forrest won his qualifier with a 5-over 77 June 23 at The Pines. Stendahl also tied for first in ‘Sota Series Match Play qualifier June 22 at Edinburgh GC (2-under 70).
Schrader finished first with a 4-over 76 June 10 in a Junior Tour event at Whitefish Golf Course and took second with a 4-over 75 Jun 8 in a Junior Tour at Crosswoods Golf Course. He was sixth with a 12-over 156 (76-80) June 14-15 in a Player’s Tour event at Legacy Golf, and he tied for 15th place with a 10-over 154 (78-76) at Bunker Hills.
“These guys are just really putting in the time,” Schetinski said. “These guys are kids who just love golf, so that’s huge. I was really looking forward to this year, so now we get to really look forward to next year even more so.”
And since golf is considered a low-risk sport during the pandemic, as long as golf courses remain open, the offseason remains more normal than some other sports.
Social distancing is easier with golf since everyone has their clubs and balls, and groups are always limited to foursomes or less.
But when it comes to a school season, Schetinski said he hopes this “something we will never have to go through again.”
“It is kind of normal for golf,” Schetinski said. “I think they will have plenty of room to improve their game and do what they normally do.”