Simply fielding a full varsity lineup of six golfers will be one of Scott Foltz's biggest challenges as he takes over the Minot High School girls program this season.
MHS has just seven players on the roster and five of them are freshmen or younger.
"We're gonna be a high-80s, low-to-mid-90s team," Foltz said. "That's just who we are right now. We don't have a horse, but we've got four similar players."
Minot High School junior McKinley Bender follows through during practice at the Souris Valley Golf Course driving range on Tuesday. Also pictured is MHS assistant coach Shantel Montgomery.
Months after resigning as the boys coach to focus on assisting the girls program and his daughter Marley, an eighth-grader, Foltz is back as a head coach. Former MHS coach Cody Mueller was expected to continue in the role, but Foltz was asked to take over in recent weeks.
Mueller could not be reached for comment.
Foltz is familiar with the girls team and expects junior McKinley Bender to be the team's No. 1. Bender is replacing Haili Duchscherer, who led Minot to a seventh-place finish at the state tournament and placed just out of the top 10 with a two-day total of 168.
Steady play from Bender will increase the Majettes' chances of being a top-three team in the West Region, a goal Foltz described as "realistic."
"She's not big off the tee, but she's got a real good short game, putts well," Foltz said.
Bender focused on her short game after a 2012 season where she never quite felt comfortable.
"I was kind of in a ... tough spot. I don't know what it was," Bender said. "This year, I just need to be focused and try to get my score down as low as I can.
"We're a younger team, for sure. We should have a good four solid top scorers. We kind of all know how each other plays, the top for us, so I think we should have a good team."
The team's only other upperclassman, senior Hallie Williamson, is expected to be in that top four along with freshmen Paige Argent and Makensy Arlene.
"They're a couple of freshmen poised for breakout years," Foltz said.
Williamson didn't shoot under 90 last season and hopes to consistently be in the 80s.
"I know we're gonna definitely have to step up our game this year," she said, "but I know, like, with a lot of the younger faces we'll be able to get them to really improve and hopefully by the end of the season we'll be pretty well-rounded."
Foltz sees Dickinson and Bismarck Century as the top teams in the West Region, but gave the edge to the Midgets. DHS returns seniors Rachel Jahner and Riana Cooper. Jahner took second in the state last year, dropping a three-hole playoff to Fargo North graduate Annie Twells.
"I think far and away Dickinson is the team to beat," Foltz said. "They've got a nice one-two punch there that I think both teams are gonna have a hard time matching up with one of them, much less two of them."
MHS will see how it holds up against the rest of the state when the season begins Monday and Tuesday in the East-West Classic at Jamestown Country Club.
Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.