Forest Park golf success began with 2017 team

Members of the Forest Park boys golf team are, from left, first row: Nolan Brames, Jacob Weisman, Aaron White, Colin Lane, Bryce Brosmer, Cade Prechtel and Keenan Bertges. Second row: assistant coaches Drew Thurman and John Bertges, Dylan Greulich, Jacob Berg, Jake Rickelman, Zach Wendholt, Evan Weyer and head coach Chris Tretter.

BY JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — How often do you get to be part of something historic? Well, a group of young boys got to do just that in the spring of 2017 when the Forest Park golf team made it to regionals as a group for the first time in school history.

The Rangers came into the season with high potential and expectations. They were senior-laden and endured a challenging road the year before.

“The prior year we didn’t have any seniors,” said Rangers coach Chris Tretter. “The [players] in the 2017 class were our seniors for two years. 2016 was a year of a lot of learning and growth for them. They had to figure out how to make their own way as juniors.”

So that’s what they did. With players like Bryce Brosmer, Evan Weyer and Zach Wendholt, the Rangers went forward and carved out nine match victories and a third-place finish in the Pocket Athletic Conference match. They wound up finishing sixth overall at sectional, but Tretter was proud of what his then-juniors accomplished, and was excited about what they could do in the coming year.

“They were able to handle themselves very well,” he said. “That amplified our expectations for 2017, knowing they had found themselves in a lot of interesting situations in 2016. They basically had to lean on themselves.”

But potential doesn’t happen on its own, so the Rangers went to work in the offseason preparing for the spring. The Rangers were good drivers off the tee, and worked hard to improve their short game, but it took all of their combined individual talents to reach new heights. Weyer brought power and competitive fire to the Rangers lineup. Tretter said there were times he caught up to Weyer during a match, and all he would say is ‘It’s going well,’ and Tretter would leave him alone, confident he would shoot a solid round.

“A lot of it came down to keeping the ball in play,” Weyer said. “If I was able to keep it in the fairway and not get myself in a bind, I could set myself for a good position to hit greens.”

Weyer and Brosmer were interchangeable at the No. 1 slot in the lineup, but Brosmer didn’t mind being moved around in the lineup to help the team. Brosmer had clubs in his hand for as long as he could remember, and used creative shots to help the Rangers during matches.

“I was a pretty consistent player,” he said. “I was known for my short game compared to getting from the tee to the green.”

Wendholt was a player who specialized in keeping himself out of trouble. He wasn’t flashy, but he kept the ball in front of him as he marched up and down the course. Tretter said he never worried about Wendholt bringing in a large number.

“I had low, straight shots, which worked for me,” he said. “I would keep the ball in play, never really hit out of bounds. I was always going to shoot a score for the team we could use.”

Jacob Weisman and Aaron White rounded out the rest of the Rangers lineup. White was skilled at course management, and Weisman only played two seasons, but Tretter thinks he had the talent to earn a college scholarship if he’d had a chance to work with him at a younger age.

The Rangers played at a high level throughout the spring. They went unbeaten throughout April, and consistently finished challenging for the top spot on the back end of the regular-season schedule. All in all, they won 12 matches and finished third in the PAC. They had hit their stride by the time sectional came around, and were looking forward to great things.

“We felt pretty confident,” Weyer said. “We were competing with Jasper and Heritage Hills during the regular season. Looking at some of our other sectional opponents, we had beaten them during the season. I felt pretty confident we could do well as a team.”

“Chris does a good job of making sure we get plenty of playing time at Sultan’s Run during the season,” Brosmer added. “Coming into the day, we all felt good and felt we were going to post a good score.”

But expecting a good score doesn’t mean it will happen automatically. A few of the players recall the sectional match not being their finest round of the season, but they persevered and Tretter kept on encouraging them. The Rangers trusted each other to settle in and hit the shots they needed for their target scores. Tretter was there at the 18th hole to welcome them all in, and he couldn’t wait to tally the scores.

“We knew approximately what we needed to shoot,” he said. “Wendholt fired that 81, and the coaches and I thought ‘Oh my goodness.’ I remember Weyer finishing his round, I gave him a big hug and said ‘Buddy, we did it.’ I knew when he posted his final number we were going.”

The celebration came swiftly as the Rangers finished third overall at sectional with a 349. Jasper (311) and Heritage Hills (339) placed first and second. Wendholt was the low man of the afternoon with his 81.

“It was a surreal moment,” Wendholt said. “After my round, I remember Chris coming up to me and asking what I scored. I told him my score, and you could see in his face he was super excited. I remember the team sitting there and watching [Weyer] come up, and he gave coach his scorecard. That’s the moment we figured out we were going to get out of sectional.”

“It was a great feeling when that happened,” Weyer added. “We were happy to make that push to extend our season.”

The historic implications of their outing didn’t really hit the players until some time after the match had wrapped up, but to this day, it’s a proud moment for all who were involved. Tretter credited that senior class with demonstrating what was possible for a school like Forest Park, and the players hope their mark is something that can serve as motivation for the golf teams that come behind them.

“It felt like we were setting the foundation for what Forest Park golf could become,” said Weyer. “It’s nice knowing we were there, and hopefully the tradition of a great Forest Park golf team keeps going on long into the future.”

“Chris gets all the credit for that,” Brosmer added. “Everything he’s done for the program is unbelievable. Kudos to him.”




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