Magi golf prepares for new season, new leadership

Magi golf prepares for new season, new leadership

Justin Martinez/MDN Minot High School junior Jack Demke takes a swing at Souris Valley Golf Course during the Magicians’ first team practice on Monday.

This might not be the same Minot team from last year, but that won’t hold the Magicians back.

The Minot High School boys golf team peaked at the perfect time last season by placing fifth in the Class A state tournament with a group score of 603. The total bested that of any other West Region team, cementing their spot as one of the top groups in the state.

To further prove that notion, only three athletes from the West Region placed in the top 20, and all three of them donned the maroon and gold. Kessler Heilman tied for ninth with a two-day score of 148, while Spencer Ross and Easton Evanoff each tied for 12th with scores of 150.

The catch: All three of those competitors were seniors, and they’ve since graduated. A fourth senior in Damyn Boyce is also no longer with the team, leaving the Magi with some sizable shoes to fill as the new season approaches.

But the slate hasn’t been wiped completely clean.

Minot still has plenty of experienced players returning, and it’s this familiarity with the big stage that the Magi will lean on as they attempt to preserve their spot amongst the top of the West Region hierarchy.

“That’s tremendous,” MHS head coach Shane Hannegrefs said when asked about the importance of bringing back state experience. “We have a good group to start with…It’s going be a different team, but that’s kind of exciting too.”

Headlining the list of returners is an athlete whose age doesn’t do him justice. Gavin Argent is only a sophomore, but the then-freshman had a breakout performance at last year’s state tournament.

Argent finished fourth-best amongst the Magi with a score of 154 and earned all-conference honors. Since then, he has put in time on the golf course nearly every day in preparation for an expanded role with the team this time around.

“I played pretty well at state last year, and it helped me,” Argent said. “I feel like this year I can take a few of the things I learned and carry it over. I feel like pretty much my whole game has improved.”

Minot also has a pair of seasoned upperclassmen in senior Otto Langhans and junior Jack Demke. The two scored a 157 and a 162, respectively, at last year’s state tournament.

With numerous years of tournament golf under their belts, the duo will try to not only use that experience to improve their personal game but also guide the younger members of the team.

“I’ve learned to keep my head in the game, stay focused and finish every golf round,” Demke said. “It’s really important for us to give the underclassman someone to look up to. We have to teach them because we were once there too.”

With a team score being comprised of four players’ totals, it’ll be up to Minot’s supporting cast to aid Argent, Langhans and Demke.

Hannegrefs and his staff will be searching for new talent to rise through the ranks, as the Magi held their first official practice on Monday at the Souris Valley Golf Course.

“It’s great to see these young guys getting bigger, stronger and improving,” Hannegrefs said. “I know they’ve been out here working on their game, so that’s exciting.”

The team tees off the new season on Friday with an invitational at Heart River Golf Course in Dickinson, the same course where the Magi took fifth at state last year. The season-opening tournament is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.