Bulldog boys golfers have eyes on state, girls will be a ‘dark horse’

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Members of the MFL MarMac boys golf team include (front, left to right) Jaron Wille, Karter Decker, Joe Grau, Jonah Wille, Micheal Balster, Izaak Herbold, Will Koether; (middle) Will Howes, Carter Lightfoot, Brady Welsh, Jarett Hanson, Kyler Nuerhing, Aidan Meyer, Bryce Radloff, Austin Trappe, Kyle Tilson, Auston Lind; (back) Wesley Corlett, Nick Krambeer, Sawyer Keehner, Quinn McGeough, Ben Krambeer, Cayl Anderson, Nolan Lerch, Brodyn Blietz, Aedan Whitney, Weston Fuelling and Carsten Pester. Not pictured is Austin Schlee. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Members of the MFL MarMac girls golf team include (front, left to right) Mariah Moser, Mackenzie Bachman, Mallory Lang, Clare Grau, Kaylee Nuehring, Kaylee Baker, Devon Meyer; (back) Olivia Pritchard, Kaylin Garbes and Morgan Jacobson.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


MFL MarMac’s golf team is a combined 39 players strong, with 29 filling out the boys squad and 10 golfers for the girls. 


It’s an exciting prospect for head coach Jake Wilke, whose program last year won the boys conference title and sent a Bulldog golfer to state for the first time in school history. The boys—as well as what he called a “dark horse” girls team—hope to build on that success this season.


“We’re really looking forward to the season. It’s one of those years where the trophy case is going to double in one year,” Wilke predicted.


The boys team will be led by returning state qualifier, junior Nick Krambeer, as well as senior Joe Grau, who last season had the best individual average in the Upper Iowa Conference and will golf at the college level, and sophomore Ben Krambeer, the conference tournament champ a season ago. Senior Jonah Wille, junior Sawyer Keehner and sophomore Quinn McGeough will round out the varsity six.


The number seven spot, should one of those six have to miss a meet, is still being determined. 


“I’m a numbers guy. Numbers don’t lie,” Wilke explained. “Whoever has, overall, the best score when we start our regular season, which is April 11, will probably get it. If he doesn’t play well, I’ll give it to somebody else. That notches up the competition.”


Wilke will have many golfers to choose from. MFL MarMac returns not only a mix of upper classmen, but added a number of freshmen.


“We have a lot of newcomers this year, a lot of freshman boys who are willing to learn the game and get better,” Wilke said.


With so many golfers, the Bulldogs now have two assistant coaches in Mike Meyer and Dave Corlett. In addition to the regular JV/varsity meets, the boys will also play in multiple JV-only tournaments or meets to assure golfers receive time on the course. 


These will be good learning experiences, noted Wilke.


“For a lot of these freshman boys, it’s learning the game. A lot of them understand the game, but they don’t understand when it comes to competition. The difference it is,” he said.


There’s an emphasis on coachability—making sure the golfers are willing to listen and get better.


“With the amount of competition we have within our own team, they have to get better or they’re going to get left behind,” Wilke said.


Wilke has also strategically scheduled the varsity boys to face some tougher competition. This week, for example, they’ll take on some 2A and 3A schools in a meet at Anamosa, then golf at New Hampton.


“I threw a schedule at them to make sure we’re not only better in the conference, but when we get to the sectional and district meets. There’s an opportunity to play against some really good competition,” he said, “and it’s going to be a really good chance for us right away to see what we’re made of.”


The goal for the MFL MarMac boys team is simple: make it to the state tournament. The Bulldogs were close last year, and return all that talent, Wilke stressed, so expectations are high.


“Guys have really taken it serious,” he said. “Winning the conference title has to go through MFL MarMac, and winning the district title too, in my perspective.”


Wilke doesn’t want people to sleep on the MFL MarMac girls either. Five of the six varsity golfers are returners. That includes juniors Clare Grau, Mallory Lang and Kaylee Nuehring along with sophomores Mackenzie Bachman and Morgan Jacobson. They’ll be joined by strong freshman Devon Meyer.


“We have a couple leaders who are willing to step up and understand we were learning last year. Now it’s time to do it,” Wilke said. “We have five freshman. A couple are starting to learn the game and a couple have family members who have played the game. We also have a couple who are going to make an instant impact on the conference schedule. The girls are definitely going to surprise some people.”


As of last week, Wilke said the team had been outside just three or four times, mostly working on chipping and short game. The first time on the home course, Tri City, came last week. Otherwise, the Bulldogs have largely been working indoors.


Through that practice, Wilke can tell the girls have improved.


“Just with their swings, their mentality, their attitude,” he said. “They are still learning the game, learning the rules, but it’s nice to know that, when we went over a lot of stuff, they remembered. That’s huge.”


According to Wilke, MFL MarMac will benefit from having girls who can already hit the ball in the air. 


“Once they can hit the ball in the air, they have a huge advantage over the girls they play. Our shots, this year, are very good,” he said. “Once we get out on the course full time and get some short game going and get some putting going, we’re going to be able to increase our winning percentage and knock down those scores.”


With two wins a season ago, Wilke’s goal is for the girls team to triple that total.


“If we can get to six or seven in the conference and beat a handful of teams in the sectional and maybe get one or two golfers out of the first regional to the second regional, that would be a big step for our program,” he said.

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