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2014 Preview: Can Somerset golfers contend in MBC?

Somerset junior Hannah Erickson works on her putting skills during a Spartan practice last week. 1 / 3
Somerset assistant coach Lea Jondal works with senior Susie Schmitt on opening the face of her club on chip attempts during a Spartan practice last week. 2 / 3
Somerset senior Stacy Bracht is a returning first team all-conference golfer. 3 / 3

With four experienced golfers making up the scoring positions in the varsity lineup, the Somerset golf team is in a position to have a major impact in the Middle Border Conference race.

The Spartans finished in third place in the conference race a year ago. Senior Stacy Bracht and juniors Ally Wittstock and Cally Meixner have been in the team’s varsity lineup for most of their high school careers. Bracht was a first team All-MBC golfer last year, finishing fifth in conference points earned. Wittstock ranked 12th among the conference golfers last year.

Senior Susie Schmitt has been the surprise of the pre-season, showing the ability to step into the fourth spot in the Spartans’ varsity lineup.

“She hits her driver and her seven iron really well,” said Somerset coach Bill Powers.

Powers said several girls have shown the potential to step up to take the fifth spot in the varsity lineup. Sophomore Caitlin Tighe and juniors Mikaela Barger and Maddy Branch have shown they are capable of making the move to the varsity level. Tighe missed last season with a torn ACL. She begins the season handling the fifth spot in the lineup.

Bracht has the goal to improve on her fifth place finish in the conference standings. Powers said one of his main objectives for the season is to get Bracht into the state tournament.

“Stacy will be one of the better players around,” Powers said. “She’s really worked hard at her short game and it’s much better.”

Powers said he expects Bracht to score consistently in the low 40s. He said the team’s chances of stepping up to battle top contenders Osceola and New Richmond depends largely on how much Wittstock and Meixner have improved.

“Ally and Cally played quite a bit this summer,” Powers said. “Those two shooting decent scores is the key for us. They’ve played enough, they have the potential to shoot 47 or 48.”

The Spartans have several big hitters in the lineup. That’s led by Wittstock, who hits some of the longest drives in the conference.

New Richmond won the conference title last year, but graduated its top two players. Osceola also graduated its top player. Powers said those teams still deserve to be considered the top two teams heading into the conference schedule, which begins this week.

Powers said the Spartans have the expectation of qualifying for the WIAA Division 2 sectional meet. Four teams advance out of the regional tournament to the sectional meet. Powers said he expects the Spartans and Osceola to be the top two teams in the regional meet.

Powers is assisted in coaching the team by Cory Lindenberg and Lea Jondal. Powers said the team has made marked progress in the early season practices.

“The whole team is very coachable,” Powers said.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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