MITCHELL, S.D. – The 2018 Dakota Wesleyan University men's and women's golf teams will feature plenty of new faces this fall, as second-year head golf coach Tom Hoek looks to guide the teams.
Hoek's 2018 rosters consist of 25 golfers, with 15 being freshman. The women's team consists of 10 freshmen, while five freshman are on the men's side. While both rosters have young players, Hoek also knows he brings in a lot of talent as well.
"It's an exciting opportunity," Hoek said. "Where our numbers have been the last couple years it's a great feeling to have a large talented class come into the program and we anticipate some of our freshmen to make an impact right away."
The lone senior on the women's team will be Platte, S.D., native Nicole Nelson. She was named to last season's All-GPAC team after having a breakout year. Nelson finished the spring with two top-five finishes and three top-10 finishes. Nelson also had a nice showing at the GPAC meet finishing tied for 12th place. Emily Sharkey also provides a veteran presence as she golfed in all four spring meets last season, while Brooke Ehlers competed in 14 events last year.
"We have three ladies returning from last season and I can't say enough about each of their character" Hoek said. "Niki, Emily, and Brooke were a huge influence to instilling a strong culture back into our program. Their leadership will be influential in getting our large class of freshmen on the right track early."
The Tigers bring in a loaded freshman class who have plenty of state tournament experience. Jade Burr took second place at the South Dakota Class 'A' Golf Tournament her senior year at Belle Fourche High School. Megan Hinker also took seventh at the state golf tournament as a member of the Lennox golf team. Parkston, S.D., native Jayden Bormann joins DWU golf after a ninth-place finish during her junior season at the Class 'A' state golf tournament.
Kaitlyn Greenhoff was a four-time South Dakota Class 'A' State Golf Tournament qualifier as a member of the Dell Rapids High School golf team. Hoek knows how talented these girls are coming in and how they can make an impact.
"The first couple weeks are a huge transition period for freshmen," Hoek said. "The courses are longer and the competition level is higher, so we try to get them in as high pressure situations as possible to simulate what they could experience in their first tournament. It's going to be a process, but we have a group of ladies who are willing to embrace the challenge ahead."
The Dakota Wesleyan University men's golf team will have many returning players and young talent to fill out the 2018-19 roster. After losing the lone senior from last year's squad to graduation, the Tigers return six golfers and add six newcomers to the team.
"It's a great balance to have as a program," Hoek stated. "We have a solid group of freshmen who will push the returners for a spot and great group of returners to lead by example."
Returning for his second season with DWU is Cade Carpenter. The Mitchell, S.D., native played in 13 tournaments and placed 14th in the GPAC Fall Qualifier. Justice Morrison will also return for his second season with the Tigers. He competed in 10 tournaments last season, highlighted by a sixth-place finish at the Mount Marty Fall Invite. He also placed 35th at the GPAC Qualifier.
"Coming off their freshmen campaign we look for Cade and Justice to provide the consistency we need and the leadership that our younger players can learn from," Hoek commented. "We are a very young group overall so we look for these two to grow with the incoming class."
Some players new to the team that are looking to make an immediate impact on the men's side include Tony Hayes, Bennett Lundy, and Nolan Wiegel. Hayes is a transfer from South Dakota State University and is a native of Sioux Falls, S.D. In high school, he placed 23rd at the South Dakota Class 'AA' Golf Meet his senior year, and helped guide his team to the state championship that same year. Lundy golfed at Aberdeen Central High School and took eighth place his senior season and 12th place his junior year at the South Dakota Class 'AA' State Golf Meet. Wiegel joins the Tiger squad after being a six-year starter at Huron High School.
"Wiegel and Lundy have transitioned well into the college level after finishing their prep careers on a high note," Hoek said. "We believe these two will add consistency as we look forward to the competitive mindset they bring into the program. Hayes is a transfer that came from a very successful program and state championship team and we are excited to see that transfer over to the college level."
The Dakota Wesleyan University women's golf team will kick off its fall season tomorrow at the Mount Marty Invite at the Fox Run Golf Course and the Hillcrest Country Club in Yankton, S.D. The men's team will start Tuesday Sept. 4 at the Wilderness Ridge/Highland Golf Course in Lincoln, Neb.