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BOYS GOLF: Warriors have potential to contend for section title

Five of the six members of last year’s Section 8-3A tournament team return for Brainerd this spring, which should help the Warriors contend for the title.

Seniors Tommy Olson, Aaron Rich, Nik Helland and TJ Perpich, along with sophomore Thomas Stoxen, are back from a team that finished fourth in the 2011 section tournament. Olson and Stoxen have been members of the last two section teams.

“I will stack our top 5-6 kids up against any team in our section,” Warriors coach Brian Wallace said. “It just depends on how well they stay focused come time for the section meet and not get so nervous that they can’t perform like we know they can.”

The return of Michael Foley should strengthen Brainerd’s nucleus. Now a senior, Foley moved to South Carolina for his junior season but returned to Brainerd for the opening day of practice March 19. He was a member of Warriors section teams from eighth through 10th grades.

Brainerd activities director Charlie Campbell said when Foley’s transfer of residency is complete, approximately April 30, Foley will be eligible to compete.

“He will be a crucial part of the varsity team when he becomes eligible,” Wallace said.

Olson was an All-Central Lakes Conference golfer last season and finished 13th in the section. He placed eighth in the final Central Lakes Conference standings.

“Tommy was very consistent last year,” Wallace said. “He worked on his game all summer and spring. We’re looking for him to lead the way for our team.”

Rich was 18th in the section tournament.

“Aaron played well,” Wallace said, “but he had some things he needed to change in his swing. He came out this year with those changes in place and is hitting the ball extremely well.”

Helland finished 30th in the section, Stoxen 42nd and Perpich 50th.

“As a trio, they all played a lot of golf last summer,” Wallace said. “Stoxen, especially, did well in tournament play last summer. We’re hoping some of that tournament experience carries over to the high school season.

“Thomas played well last summer. With Tommy and Aaron returning, and add Michael to that mix down the stretch, you have a real solid four players.”

Seniors Matt Pohlkamp and Thor Linnerooth are vying for varsity playing time along with junior Keegan Kennedy.

“Matt’s got such great athletic ability, and Thor is a good athlete,” Wallace said. “We’ll see how they pan out, whether they can play their way onto the team. Neither one of them played any on the varsity team last year.

“Keegan is showing some potential but before we get into a qualifying situation we don’t know how their scores are going to shake out.”

In all, the Warriors have seven seniors.

“One thing about a huge group of seniors that you don’t know is how they will perform down the stretch,” Wallace said. “I have high expectations for them, but graduating and then competing in the section meet can be a huge distraction. I’ve seen it time and time again. Hopefully they can stay focused all the way into June, past their high school graduation.”

Warriors roster

Seniors: Matt Pohlkamp, Thor Linnerooth, Tommy Olson, Aaron Rich, Nik Helland, TJ Perpich, Michael Foley

Juniors: Alex Paschall, Jack Holland, Keegan Kennedy

Sophomores: Thomas Stoxen, Alex Mimmack, Austin Williams, Blake Thelen, Caleb Huchel, Jack White, Jake Ellingson, Taylor Campbell, Tyson Genz