MITCHELL, S.D. - Under third-year head coach Tom Hoek, the Dakota Wesleyan University men's and women's golf teams enter the 2019-20 season with a hopeful and youthful roster to make a push at the Great Plains Athletic Conference Championships.
With eight upperclassmen and 15 underclassmen between the men's and women's golf teams, Hoek will rely on the experience of his upperclassmen to pave the way for his young teams this season.
"We have one senior and a group of juniors who have solid tournament experience in previous years," Hoek said of his men's team. "By not losing any player to graduation last year, we are going to rely on a core group of returning players to raise the bar and start competing to win tournaments. These players gained valuable lessons early on in their collegiate careers, but now it's time to take the next step as upperclassmen."
Senior Jayden Engels is the only senior on the men's side and will look to cap off his career on a high note. His best finish last season was at the Jamestown Invitational as he finished tied for ninth place with a score of 76.
Cade Carpenter, Justice Morrison and Nolan Wiegel will also be relied upon to lead the men' side. Carpenter competed in every meet as his best finish came at the GPAC Qualifier #4 with a score of 74, good for eighth place.
Morrison will be another leader in the junior class after competing in every meet. His best finish last year was at the GPAC Qualifier #4 after tying for 16th and a 76. Entering just his second season, Wiegel will look to pick up where he left off a season ago. At the GPAC Qualifier, he finished the first day tied for first. However, a down second day led him to a ninth-place finish and a spot on the All-GPAC Team.
"Jayden is our lone senior on the team, and we look for his leadership to thrive and trickle down to our underclassmen," Hoek commented. "Cade and Justice have been strong contributors since they stepped foot into the program, and we look for them to raise the bar competitively and move us closer to the top in conference. Nolan came in strong last year for his freshman year and we look for him to continue pushing everyone on the team. We have a solid group of men returning from last year who push each other every week to make the travel team. With the addition of our two freshmen who can make an impact right away we are going to have some great battles in practice and qualifying."
Two freshman that will look to compete in tournaments are Devan Weelborg and Payton Phares. Weelborg comes to DWU from Bryant, S.D., where he played in six state tournaments for Hamlin High School. He placed in the top five all four years of high school and had his best finish as a senior as the 2019 South Dakota Class 'B' State Golf Tournament Runner-Up.
Phares joins the men's team from Rapid City, S.D. He was a state runner-up two years in a row for Rapid City Stevens High School. He took third place in the Huron Invitational and won the Brookings and Sturgis Invitational.
On the women's side, sophomores Jayden Bormann, Kaitlyn Greenhoff, Megan Hinker and junior transfer Hijke Pretorious will look to lead the charge.
"After graduating a great senior leader in Niki Nelson, we look to our lone junior, Brook Ehlers, and a strong sophomore class to keep us toward the top of the conference," Hoek mentioned. "We have a solid group back who led us closer to the top of the conference and we look to build off last year's success."
Bormann played in every competition in her first season with the Tigers and looks to do the same in her second year. At the Tabor College Spring Invite, she carded a two-day total of 181, good for 13th place and her best finish of her first year.
Greenhoff saw action in six different competitions in her first season. Her best finish came at the GPAC Spring Qualifier as she finished with an 89 on the final round, good for eighth place. Megan Hinker is another sophomore seeking to continue her early success at DWU. She competed in every meet and recorded a 10th-place finish at the College of Saint Mary/Midland University Spring Invitational with a two-day total of 174.
The lone junior transfer, Pretorious, looks to make an immediate impact for DWU. She joins the women's golf team from Western Texas College. Pretorious is from South Africa and comes in with a wealth of championship experience while playing in two national tournaments.
Two new faces for the Tigers is freshman Kailee Henglefelt and Erin Moncur. Henglefelt stays at home after being a four-time letterwinner for the Kernels. She also played in four state tournaments. Moncur comes from Miller High School, where she was a six-time letterwinner. She qualified for the South Dakota Class 'B' State Golf Tournament every year from 2013-18. Moncur took eighth place at the 2018 state tournament, while finishing with an average stroke of 91.
The fall season begins for both teams at the Mt. Marty Invitational on Thursday, Aug. 29 in Yankton, S.D. The men kick off the month of September at the Blue River Classic on Tuesday, Sept. 3 in Lincoln, Neb., while the women compete in the College of Saint Mary Invitational on Wednesday, Sept. 4 in Omaha, Neb. The GPAC Fall Championships for the men will be from Sept. 27-28 at the Indian Creek Golf Club in Elkhorn, Neb. The women's GPAC Fall Championships take place from Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at The Bluffs Golf Club in Vermillion, S.D.
Both teams will get to compete in a new tournament this season in the Lindenwood Belleville Invitational. The tournament takes place from Oct. 14-15 at the Stonewolf Golf Club in Fairview Heights, Ill.