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GLENWOOD CITY — For the upcoming Glenwood City golf season, Coach Popko and Coach Nied welcome back eight golfers from last year and seven athletes who are freshmen or sophomores.
In last year’s golf season, the Hilltoppers finished second in almost all of their meets, often losing out to an exceptionally competitive team from Durand.
Glenwood City had one athlete qualify for first team all-conference in Ian Radintz. Additionally, Owen Swenby and Gabe Knops both qualified as second team all-conference. The team advanced last year from regionals in third place and Swenby had a season low of 83. At sectionals, they did not move on as a team or individually, although Radintz missed out on state by just one stroke at 82.
The team did not have any golfers graduate last year, so the entire squad is back with our new additions.
Returning for the Toppers this year will be senior, Owen Swenby, alongside junior leaders Gabe Knops and Ian Radintz. These three golfed varsity last year and they will play a key role in ensuring the squad develops. They have already taken on coaching roles with the new players and the season is starting off brightly.
Additionally, the sophomores of Ben Wittmer and Jared Hager return, having played varsity roles last season. Their added experience will be vital to the season.
The Toppers also have returning athletes in Sakari Beaman, Damian Shervington, and Lewis Swanepoel. While they were just learning the game last year, the coaches are quite happy to have them back and looking forward to seeing them grow even more.
In addition to the veterans, the Toppers have seven new athletes joining the team. While some are quite new to the sport, there are others who are more experienced golfers and the coaches are anxious to see what these new players can do. In particular, the coaches are excited about the experienced additions of the sophomore, Brett Peterson, as well as the freshmen, Charlie Lamb, Esdyn Swenby, Wyatt Unser, and Cole Wakeling. Alongside these athletes, the coaches singled out the new additions who are learning as they go with the freshmen, Elijah Millermon and Tyler Rogers.
Speaking about the strengths of the team, Coach Popko pointed out that it was extremely beneficial to have experienced golfers all returning to the team.
“It is great to have that leadership to draw on and I am very happy they have provided such a great desire to play among the other students,” Popko said.
Additionally, Popko thanked the community support orchestrated by former coach, Ron Johnson, and parent, Matt Radintz, who helped raise funds for new customized golf bags during the summer. Finally, Popko was grateful for the patience and flexibility from Todd Hoffman at Glen Hills who has been nothing but accommodating and understanding of the team’s needs and goals.
In discussing some weaknesses, the coaches mentioned that the weather has been quite challenging so far and does not look to get better immediately. The Toppers have already canceled the first week of meets, with the season not starting now until almost mid-April.
One goal for the Toppers rests on establishing the core golfers into an effective unit that can perform in a competitive manner. Last year, the team performed well, but there is a real sense we can do even better. In that regard, the coaches are tempering expectations while also asking the athletes to do their very best in the upcoming season.
The primary goal for each player will be to see their average score decline, to see them put together a mentally strong performance, and to see the group work for each other to support the individual efforts of all.
Coach Popko is entering his second season as head golf coach alongside Coach Nied in her second year as assistant/junior varsity coach. Prior to taking the head position, Popko was the junior varsity coach for three years.
The Toppers’ season will start on Tuesday, April 12 at Whitetail golf course. This start is still subject to change, but they will be competing against Colfax/Elk Mound, Durand, Mondovi, and Spring Valley this season.
Senior: Owen Swenby
Juniors: Ian Radintz, Gabe Knops
Sophomores: Ben Wittmer, Sakari Beaman, Jared Hager, Damian Shervington, Lewis Swanepoel, Brett Peterson
Freshmen: Esdyn Swenby, Charlie Lamb, Wyatt Unser, Cole Wakeling, Elijah Millermon, Tyler Rogers