Waukon boys golf team looks to handful of varsity veterans for leadership during 2015 season

2015 Waukon boys golf team: Left to right - Front row: Riley Wyninger, Jess Kloke, Joe Lund, Lucas Ameida, Mason McMillan, Nathan Benzing, Shane Halverson. Back row: Luke Zezulka, Connor Hanson, Nick Bieber, Drake Jensen, Zach Bieber, Gus Pladsen, Sully Bucheit, Logan Sullivan. Not pictured: Devin Ryan.

by Bob Beach

The Waukon boys golf team has been preparing for competition over the past couple weeks and the team is scheduled to tee off on its home course in Waukon to start the competition season Monday, April 6 against South Winneshiek. For the first time in many years, the team was able to get onto the course at the Waukon Golf and Country Club for the first day of practice, but that uncommon boon was cut short by a late snowfall within the next week. Coaches and players alike remain hopeful that the course will be competition ready in time for Monday’s season-opener.
This season’s squad of 16 golfers includes only one returning senior, Sully Bucheit, who joins the team for only his second year. Other seniors on this year’s team include Zach Bieber, Nick Bieber, Drake Jensen and Devin Ryan, all first-year players, along with foreign exchange student Lucas Ameida.
“Sully has a leg up on playing time and experience, but he is still only in his second year of playing golf,” Waukon boys golf coach Todd Neal said. “The other seniors have quite a bit of ground to make up and have no meet experience. They are obviously just learning, and better late than never, as the saying goes.”
Juniors Mason McMillan, Connor Hanson and Luke Zezulka have also returned to the team this spring with varsity experience from the previous two seasons. “Most of them play a considerable amount during the summer months, which is critical to improving,” said Coach Neal. “I have seen early signs that their swings have matured. They should form a nucleus of the varsity positions throughout the season.” Additional juniors on this year’s team include Gus Pladsen and Shane Halverson.
Three sophomores from last year’s squad have returned to the team this year, including Nathan Benzing, Logan Sullivan and Riley Wyninger. “Logan played fairly extensively last year, and I am expecting him to compete for varsity,” Coach Neal said.
Two freshmen round out the team’s roster, Jess Kloke and Joe Lund. “Jess has participated in our summer camp golf activities over the last few years,” Coach Neal said. “I am expecting that he will push for varsity playing time.”
“We are a small group with some unproven and unknown abilities combined with some talent and experience. It is too early to tell what our line-up will be, one through 12, so that will be interesting to see how players grow and develop,” said Coach Neal. “New this year, and thanks to past fundraising efforts, we were able to purchase multiple indoor putting and chipping mats. This has been an effective tool both for me as a coach and for the team. With the indecisive weather, the mats are allowing us to practice short game skills indoors until the weather cooperates. In addition, the boosters have generously supported our boys program with new team rain gear, so we will be looking sharp at the very least.”