Dodgers look to make steady climb
Fort Dodge head boys golf coach Mike Mericle has an interesting numbers game on his hands this fall.
On the positive side, the Dodgers welcome 11 freshmen to the roster to join three returning letterwinners. And while that bodes well for the future, it will present a unique challenge for Mericle, who enters his fifth season at the helm.
“Working on the game of golf is very important for us,” Mericle said. “Also, working on learning the game (is also critical), since a lot of these golfers have never played the game before.”
In order to get a head start on the year, Mericle held “open gyms” to get the kids familiar with the sport.
“We had some good numbers for it,” he said. “It’s great to see that they are excited for the upcoming season. After the first week of practice, I’ve seen vast improvement in their swings and short game.
“We just need to keep improving throughout the season.”
Isaac Hage, a returning junior who has been a varsity regular, led Fort Dodge with an averaging of 40.5 last season on nine holes and an 88 for the five 18-hole tourneys that were played.
A handful of others will be counted on to round out the varsity lineup and lead the newcomers. Hage, along with seniors Chris Hatton and Boston Gordon, are returning letterwinners.
“Isaac is standing out once again,” Mericle said. “He was our rock last season and that is who we are relying on once again. He has high expectations for himself, which, if he continues to work on his game, I can see those expectations becoming reality for him.
“Gavin Strain, Boston Gordon, Michael Daniel and Nolan Daniel will also be helping us out. We need quite a few guys to step up and take that leadership role and lead by example.”
With so many kids new to the game, Mericle knows there will be no better practice than real-time action.
“Our expectations for this season are to compete in each invite and dual,” he said. “We are inexperienced, so just playing will help with that.”
The Dodgers open their season Monday at the Mason City Invitational. They will host the Phil Joselyn Invitational on Aug. 28 at the Fort Dodge Country Club with Ames, Ankeny Centennial, Ankeny, Sioux City Heelan, Des Moines East, Indianola, Johnston, Des Moines Lincoln, Mason City, Des Moines North, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Sioux City East, Sioux City North, Sioux City West, Urbandale and Waukee present.
2018 FORT DODGE BOYS GOLF
Seniors — Boston Gordon, Chris Hatton.
Juniors — Jacob Miller, Isaac Hage, Dylan Peterman, Gavin Strain, Nolan Daniel, Tyler Young.
Sophomores — Kaleb Anderson, Michael Daniel, Charlie Gailey, Mason Bowman.
Freshmen — Owen Recker, Andrew Alstott, Carson Kahler, Peyton Hays, Dillon Summers, Luke Vaughan, Tyler Crimmins, Aiden Heistand, Calvin Lyon, Aiden Porter, Alex Dohrn.
Aug. 20 — at Mason City Invitational, 10 a.m.; 22 — Waukee, 10 a.m./3:30 p.m.; 27 — at Southeast Polk, 3:30 p.m.; 28 — host Phil Joselyn Invitational, 10 a.m.
Sept. 4 — Marshalltown, 3:30 p.m.; 5 — at Ankeny Invitational, 9 a.m.; 13 — West Des Moines Valley, 3:30 p.m.; 14 — at Joe August Invitational in Marshalltown, 10 a.m.; 17 — at Indianola; 18 — at Mason City; 26 — at CIML Iowa Conference meet at Willow Creek Golf Course.