Packer golfers thinking big this season

Published 10:00 pm Friday, March 27, 2009

Between the Austin boys and girls golf teams, one could have an individual state champ and the other could advance to state as a team this season.

Needless to say, it will be an exciting Spring on the greens.

The girls are aiming at another Big Nine title and the boys are hoping to get their team to state.

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Austin’s girls have won or tied for the Big Nine title four of the past six seasons after tying for the title last season and they look to be in the thick of the chase this year.

“It means a lot. I’ve been on a Big Nine winning team every year except for one,” said Catherine Wagner, who took second at the Class ‘AAA’ individual state golf meet last season. “We have some good younger girls coming up and that should help us try to get a repeat again this year.”

Austin head girls coach Carissa Gabrielson said last year’s title was a little bit of a surprise as the Packers had to comeback on the second day to win it. She hopes things go better this year.

“It’s kind of expected for us to come out and try to win it. I don’t think they’ll be any surprises if we win again this year.” Gabrielson said.

Besides Wagner, a senior, the Packers will look to Natalie Swan and Ingrid Baudler to contribute, along with some underclassmen.

The team is a small one with just 11 golfers, but Gabrielson feels they can compete.

She also expects Wagner to compete for a state title as she is the top returning golfer from last season.

“I see Catherine as the favorite to win state,” Gabrielson said.

Wagner is well aware of where she stands, but she won’t let it get to her.

“It’s a little pressure and I want to maintain that top position,” she said. “I just try to go out there and have as much fun as I can and play well.”

For the boys, the expectations are high for a team that brings back it’s four main players who have all played varsity since at least ninth grade.

“We’ve gone to some golf clinics and gotten some lessons and we’re a really solid team that’s looking to do real well,” said Austin head boys coach Will Pazurek. “We expect to finish at the top of the Big Nine. We’re just going take it match by match and our goal is to win everything. We can do that if everybody’s doing their part and playing 100 percent all the time.”

Along with the goal to win the conference, the boys team hopes to get to state this year after taking second at the Section 1AAA meet last season.

“I think we can get to state as a team and that’s our goal. Individually, any of our varsity guys could shoot two good scores and get in,” Pazurek said. “It just comes down to forgetting about everything around you and playing golf.”

Austin has one state qualifier returning in its lineup in senior Drew Osier who took 56th in the Class ‘AAA’ golf meet last season. But Austin’s No. 1 player is more concerned with his team than his individual goals.

“We all know each other’s swings and we know how to fix them. We help each other out on the range,” he said. “On the course it’s a different story because it’s individual, but in the back of our minds is the team. You take a bogey instead of a double, or a par instead of a bogey to help the team out.”

Along with Osier — James Thorson, Nick Taber (who almost went to state last year), Garret Erstad and Drake Brehmer will take the top five spots on the team and the sixth spot will be up for grabs.

Osier knows teams will be hoping to knock off the Packers, who are the favorites in the Big Nine. But he’s sure they can handle it.

“It puts more pressure on us, but it also gives us some confidence,” he said. “We’ve grown up together and most of us have played together for four years. That helps calm the nerves.”