AUSTIN EDITION Packers have lofty goals this season
Austin was conference champ a year ago and returns top eight players
By Guy N. Limbeck
Austin has high hopes this season in girls golf, but the Packers realize they are playing in a very tough conference and section.
The Packers were the Big Nine Conference champions a year ago and went on to place third in Section 1AA. Austin returns its top eight players from a year ago.
"This is the third year they've all been together so that's fantastic," Austin coach Mark Anderson said.
As good as the Packers are expected to be, they will also face stiff competition. Rochester Century and Mayo, Mankato West and Owatonna all figure to be strong.
"If we want to win the conference again, we can't afford to let down in any meet," Anderson said. "This is my fourth year and this is the best the Big Nine has been."
Also looming in the section is Red Wing. The Wingers were the state champions a year ago and placed third in 2000. And they have all of their top players back.
"That's our goal, to beat Red Wing," Anderson said.
The Packers have other lofty goals as well. Last year they set school marks for best season average at 369 strokes per match and set a one-meet record of 347.
"Our goal is to beat both of those marks. If we're going to go to state we have to beat that record," Anderson said of the 347.
The Packers have one state golfer back from a year ago. Senior Brittany Bertilson qualified for the individual tournament a year ago and placed 12th in Class AA. Bertilson, in her fifth year on the varsity, was all-conference the past two years. She had an 82 scoring average a year ago and has placed second in the Big Nine Meet the last two years.
"She's one of the best players in the conference," Anderson said.
The Packers still have a young squad, but have a lot of experience. Sophomore Andrea Petersen (95 average a year ago) has already won three letters while senior Alison Stutzman (94) and juniors Clarie Johnson (93) and Noelle Wiebelhaus (96) have two each. Those four along with Bertilson figure to be Austin's top five players.
Juniors Emily Lorenzen (98 average in 2001) and Margaret Wagner (99) are also returning letterwinners. They will battle with junior Carissa Gabrielson for the sixth and final spot, although Anderson expects to rotate the trio.
"Our key will be work on our short game," Anderson said. "I know we're going to be good this year. It's just a matter of getting the scores where we need them."
Anderson said the players are prepared for a banner season and were working out together two weeks before the official start of practice.
"They're fired up," the coach said. "They want to defend the Big Nine (championship) and they want to do more than that."
AUSTIN GIRLS GOLF
Seniors -- Brittany Bertilson*, Alison Stutzman*, Danielle Campbell. Juniors -- Claire Johnson*, Noelle Wiebelhaus*, Margaret Wagner*, Emily Lorenzen*, Carissa Gabrielson, Sandy Wesely. Sophomores -- Andrea Petersen*.
* -- Denotes returning letterwinners.
April 15 -- Rochester Century, 3:30 p.m.
April 16 -- at Mankato East, 2:30 p.m.
April 20 -- at Hayfield Invitational, 9 a.m.
April 22 -- at Albert Lea, 3:30 p.m.
April 26 -- at New Prague Invitational, 1 p.m.
April 30 -- with Mankato West at Winona, 3:30 p.m.
May 8 -- Kasson-Mantorville, 1:30 p.m.
May 10 -- JM, Owatonna, 2:30 p.m.
May 11 -- at Fairmont Invitational, 9 a.m.
May 14 -- at Red Wing Invitational, 1 p.m.
May 16 -- with Mayo at Faribault, 3:30 p.m.
May 20 -- Big Nine Tournament at Faribault, 10 a.m.
May 23 -- Section 1AA prelims at Northern Hills, Rochester, 9 a.m.
May 28 -- Section finals at The Summitt, Cannon Falls, 9 a.m.
June 4-6 -- State Tournament at Bunker Hills, Coon Rapids, TBA