Heart River's Miller has eyes on second straight trip to state
Zach Miller has taken over the reins as the top golfer for the Heart River boys golf team, which returns many players this season.
Miller qualified for the Class B state tournament last year and head coach Jerry Perdaems said the team will be leaning on him.
"He's the only golfer we had last year that was able to qualify and attend state," Perdaems said. "He's back to lead us."
Though Miller is only a sophomore and hasn't grown into being that vocal leader yet, his play on the golf course leads by example.
"Zach isn't much in the lineup that leads vocally," Perdaems said. "He's just a person that spends a lot of time on the golf course. He'll spend hours at the chipping green or putting or just playing a number of rounds. He's probably the last one to leave practice and it's paying dividends for him."
The Cougars have two upperclassmen golfers that play vocal leaders, senior Colton Pool and junior Mitch Krebs.
"They are returning letterwinners," Perdaems said. "They are pretty solid golfers."
Perdaems said there's quality competition in Region 5, which he believes is led by Dickinson Trinity and followed by Hazen.
"We've got a lot of competition right here in our region," Perdaems said. "Of course led by Dickinson Trinity, who has a real solid golf team back and then there's the perennial powerhouse in Hazen. Beulah's got a fine club."
Bowman County is still relatively young, but head coach Don Groll said the Bulldogs are working hard to progress as the season goes along.
"We're still pretty young," Groll said. "We don't have any seasoned veterans. They work hard, but we don't have like a Chad Marshall (a standout golfer from Hazen and now plays football for Minot State)."
The Bulldogs know it's going to be tough to knock off Trinity, Hazen or Beulah, but Groll said the dream can't be taken away from them.
"We sat down the other night and talked about some goals," he said. "I think the boys realize that we can finish right in the middle of the pack at the end of the season, that will be pretty good."
On the girls side, Bowman County finished ninth at last year's state tournament and are on a mission to improve on that finish.
"We have some pretty high expectations," Groll said. "I think Beulah took second in the region last year and they graduated a bunch. We didn't graduate anybody, so we have everybody back."
Returning for Bowman County are seniors Mariah Lockert, who placed seventh at state, Kayla Palczewski (tied for 16th) and Jessica Hill.
Groll said the biggest asset for Lockert is her consistency. She may not be the biggest girl on the course, but makes up for it with solid drives and quality iron play.
"She's a little gal," Groll said. "She's about 110 pounds, but she hits it right down the middle and she's pretty consistent."
Palczewski, who helped the Bulldogs reach the Region 7 basketball tournament semifinals, packs a punch off the tee box. The Bowman County senior plans to play golf at Minot State next season.
"She hits the ball a long ways," Groll said.
The Bulldogs' biggest benefit is their high numbers of golfers. There are 17 girls on Bowman County's roster.
"That is probably an all-time high," Groll said. "It's nice to be able to have that luxury."
Heart River is on the other side of the depth battle. The Cougars just got their fourth golfer this week.
Despite the low numbers, Heart River has two returning state qualifiers.
"They should be OK," Heart River girls coach Kirby Robb said. "They are going to have to carry the team. I've got a senior from New England that's playing pretty well so far."
Junior Mary Hlebechuk and freshman Jada Mattson will lead the Cougars this season. The other golfer who has shown great strides already is Allison Urlacher, a senior from New England High School.
"Coaching is my favorite part of the job," Robb said. "I'm the head professional (at Pheasant Country Golf Course in South Heart), but I like to teach. I've got some pretty dedicated girls."