BOYS GOLF: Experienced Core Returns for Tigers | Sports

It’s tough losing a two-year Captain and five-year varsity letter Winner. That’s what happened to the Hutchinson High School boys golf team with a graduation from Cam Longie, who is now a freshman playing at Gustavus Adolphus College.

And Longie wasn’t the only guy to graduate as the Tigers lost three players from last year’s section team. The good news is they have a core group of five letter winners returning from 2021. With that returning experience, the team is in a good position to make some noise in the Wright County Conference East this year, which will look significantly different from past seasons.

“The team is a pretty close-knit unit, and overall has the drive to improve their golf games,” head Coach Tim Longie said about the 2022 Squad.

Leading Hutch’s Returners is Devon Verhasselt, the team’s Captain with the most varsity experience. He was one of two Tigers who earned an all-conference last year. He also led Hutch in the Section 2AAA Tournament with a first-day score of 80, missing the cut.

Joining Verhasselt are fellow letter winners and section Golfers Cade Salmela and Joe Anderson. Theo Kadlec and Carson Hutton are the other two Tigers letter winners from 2021. That makes five players with varsity experience, and Coach Longie said there are several other up-and-comers working to earn a spot on the team. The question is who will earn the promotion.

“We have a lot of young players with limited experience this year and they need to step up and contribute consistently,” Coach Longie said.

Consistency will be key if the Tigers hope to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish out of eight teams in the WCC East standings. But the conference has changed quite a bit with Orono, leaving New Prague and Waconia, and Southwest Christian joining. That doesn’t mean it won’t be a challenge. Delano and Mound Westonka, last year’s first- and second-place teams, are back and early favorites, Coach Longie said, along with Holy Family and Jordan for six teams total.

“It is a substantial change for our golf schedule,” Longie said about the conference changes. “Waconia has had some of the best teams and players in the state for several years, and it was always fun to play with them. Our players learned a lot doing that. The same can be said for Orono and New Prague. ”

The competition doesn’t get much easier in the Playoffs either. Hutchinson remains in the challenging Section 2AAA Tournament with top teams such as Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Chanhassen, Orono, Waconia, and last year’s section champ, Chaska.

“The section is the toughest in the state, with the biggest schools,” Longie said. “At this point I think it’s too early to pick a favorite.”

As a team the Tigers finished ninth out 12 squads last year, leaving plenty of room for improvement, which is just one of the team’s goals this year.

“Our goals are to be competitive in every meet we play in, and to finish in the top of the conference and top five in invites,” Longie said. “In order to do that, we will have to spend 80% of our time improving our short game.”

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