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Relying on youth: Midgets begin season with inexperience, but plenty of excitement

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There’s no doubt the Dickinson High girls golf team has big shoes to fill.

Two pairs of shoes to be precise.

With the graduation of Rachel Jahner and Riana Cooper, the Midgets’ roster is extremely young.

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“Those are really big shoes to fill,” Dickinson head coach Sara Berglund said. “The girls knew that coming into this year. It will be a rebuilding year and the girls are going to gain a lot of experience. I can see the girls that are returning that have had experience. They are going to step up into bigger roles and be leaders on the team this year. I know we have a bunch of younger girls that have a lot of potential.”

Dickinson senior Rachel Lantz, who has been on the varsity team for the past four years and ended her junior year with a 98.3 average, said it’s a little different without Jahner and Cooper.

Jahner, who finished with a season average of 77.3, was the 2013 North Dakota Class A girls state golf champion, Western Dakota Junior Tour champion and is signed to play golf at the University of Jamestown. Cooper ended the season with an 81.4 average, placed fourth at the 2013 state tournament and was the West Region runner-up after Annie Nelson of Bismarck Century won in a one-hole playoff.

Of the 10 tournaments last season, Jahner and Cooper placed in the top five of each one.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking not having Rachel and Riana to look up to and carry the team,” Lantz said. “It’s a little scary being the only senior, but I’ve been working hard, so we’ll see if I can improve on my own game and help the team out.”

Though Jahner and Cooper are no longer at practice, the Midgets are still feeling the effects of having two of the top players in the state.

Freshman Sydney Charchenko, who is entering her third season the varsity golf team, learned many important lessons from Jahner and Cooper.

“It was a privilege to watch them and learn from them every day,” said Charchenko, who ended her eighth-grade season with a 107.4 average. “They always helped me out. It was kind of sad to see them go.”

The rest of Dickinson’s roster is made up of underclassmen.

Despite not having a wealth of varsity experience, Berglund is eager to begin the season.

“The beginning of the season is going to be really important for them” said Berglund, who was named 2013 West Region coach of the year, about the first three weeks of the season for the underclassmen. “With them, confidence is going to be a big thing too. They are going to be nervous before their first tournament. The more experience they get, the better they will be at that.”

Dickinson, which held its first practice on Monday, doesn’t have to wait long to begin the season. The Midgets travel to the two-day East-West Classic at noon today in Jamestown.

Lantz said the team is using the East-West Classic as an early test.

“It’s a really good start to the season with the East and West (Regions) together,” she said. “It’s kind of where we left off from last year, but there are a lot of new people. A lot of new skills and there isn’t too much pressure on anyone since it’s the first tournament.”

McGregor is the sports editor of The Dickinson Press. Call him at 701-456-1214 and tweet him @SirRoyal.

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