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Boys golf: Willmar Cardinals hope experience counts

With all of its top six back, Willmar could have four players consistently score in the 70s

050222.S.WCT.Willmar BGolf Joey Wisocki.JPG
Willmar junior Joey Wisocki pumps his fist as his ball is about to sink in the hole for a birdie on hole No. 18 at the Cardinal/Wildcat Invitational on Saturday, April 30, 2022 at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Willmar.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR β€” All six of Willmar's golfers from the 2022 Section 8AAA tournament team are back for the 2023 season.

Cardinals head coach Joe Kuehn could not be happier.

"I think this has been one of my most exciting years coming back," Kuehn said. "We have eight-to-10 kids that are going to spend a lot of time playing varsity golf this year β€” which in the past β€” hasn't been the case."

At the forefront of the Cardinals' lineup will be seniors Joey Wisocki and Nathan Marthaler.

Wisocki missed an appearance at the Class AAA state tournament by two strokes in 2022, where he placed ninth at 158 over the Section 8AAA two-day competition. Marthaler shot 162, good for a tie at 16th place.

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Willmar High School golfer Deiken Carruthers tees off at Eagle Creek Golf Course in Willmar during the boys varsity conference championship on Friday, May 20, 2022.
Willmar High School golfer Deiken Carruthers tees off at Eagle Creek Golf Course in Willmar during the boys varsity conference championship on Friday, May 20, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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"Week in and week out, we know that we will need their scores," Kuehn said. "But at the same time, their leadership β€” being around this program β€” is huge for the entire team."

Following Wisocki and Marthaler's lead, Willmar's depth will bring tough decisions to Kuehn's plate throughout the year. But, it is a good problem for a coach to have.

Spots three through six are up for grabs. This has brought a competitiveness element to the program, as some spots in the lineup are not guaranteed.

"Things are wide open," Kuehn said. "We're super excited for the season and I can tell the kids are too. We got everybody back and some."

Then there are junior Deiken Carruthers and eighth-grader Aden Jacobson who are both coming off strong summers, according to Kuehn.

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Willmar's Jacob Streed eyes his upcoming putt while competing in the boys varsity conference championship at Eagle Creek Golf Course in Willmar on Friday, May 20, 2022.
Willmar's Jacob Streed eyes his upcoming putt while competing in the boys varsity conference championship at Eagle Creek Golf Course in Willmar on Friday, May 20, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

"(Deiken's) swing has looked really good all winter. He's added some distance, more consistency. I'm really excited to see what he's going to do," Kuehn said. "(Aden's) going to make some noise and it's crazy to believe he's only an eighth-grader."

Also in the mix looking to make an impact in the Cardinals' lineup are seniors Justuce Gee, Brenden Kath and Jacob Streed, junior Jordan Gorans and sophomore Steven Cruze.

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"The competition is great," Kuehn said. "There are a lot of great kids and they're a tight-knit group. They're going to push each other."

The Cardinals will aim to finish in the top-three in the Central Lakes Conference this season. Willmar is trending upward in the standings, as it took fourth in the conference in 2022 and seventh in 2021.

"Hopefully we can keep climbing up the conference leaderboard," Marthaler said. "I hope we can keep going to every conference meet and just compete and be one of the top teams every week."

Alexandria, the reigning CLC champion, also won the Section 8AAA title in 2022. Brainerd finished second in both CLC and Section 8AAA play. Then there's also Sartell, which finished third in the CLC and tied for fourth with Bemidji behind Moorhead in Section 8AAA competition.

"Our section is going to be really tough," Kuehn said. "We know that and our kids are good about that. Our section is ready for something different."

Kuehn also wants to see four of his six golfers' scores in the 70s consistently throughout the season. Willmar is scheduled to open up its season at 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, at the Hutchinson Invitational at Crow River Golf Club.

"That's something that hasn't been done in many years," Kuehn said. "That's going to give you a chance against anybody.

"I really think with everybody back, we're going to be able to be there. I have yet to have a kid go to state and I have a few kids that have the game to do it. Come section time, we could be a scary squad."

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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