Rangers golf future is brightMarch 13, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
FERDINAND — Forest Park lost regional qualifier Colin Lane to graduation in 2019, but the Rangers are not just expecting to send a golfer back to regionals, they expect the whole team to get there.
Heritage Hills has amassed a dynasty in the Pocket Athletic Conference, winning 11 consecutive titles, but ninth-year coach Chris Tretter believes the Rangers are contenders to snatch that conference crown away from the Patriots. Jasper has won 12 consecutive sectionals, and Forest Park is aiming for that, too.
"We have a lot of young talent who really grew up gaining experience as freshmen and sophomores," Tretter said. "Then we have a group of three seniors (Jacob Berg, Tanner Berg and Nolan Brames) who have grown over time as well, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they bring to the table for us this year as well."
Tretter listed three names he anticipates will be in Forest Park's top five in 2020. Junior Gavin Edele represented the First Tee of Indiana at the 2020 First Tee Champions Challenge last month in Naples, Fla. The potential is there for Edele to grab the No. 1 spot for the Rangers this spring. Tretter added the junior golfer put in work during the summer, fall and winter.
Sophomore Brant Tretter, Chris' son, shared MVP honors with Lane last year when Brant was a freshman, and got fourth place at the PAC meet. Chris touted how much experience Brant has, that he's been playing since he was 4 years old and has the mindset to work hard.
Sophomore Cooper Uebelhor, like Brant, has been playing the game from a young age. Chris praised Uebelhor for his tremendous work ethic and his knowledge of the game.
"Those three guys I feel are going to have spots as long as they continue to put in their hard work like they do," Chris said. "They will earn their spots without question."
Another sophomore, Jacob Bettag, dealt with an injury that forced him out of action for a bit as a freshman, but the coach remains high on Bettag. He praised the sophomore for all the work he put in during the offseason.
Tretter sees Bettag finding his way into the top five if he keeps working at it, having praise for the sophomore's athletic swing. He predicts Bettag and Edele will be the ones who have shown the biggest improvement.
"He's the guy that calls me and says, 'Coach, is it OK if I use the indoor center?'" he said. "So, he goes in there and uses that when he has free time available.
"I have about six kids that put in a lot of extra time, and Jacob's one of them, and since he missed that valuable time last year, he's matured," Tretter later added. "He's a little bit bigger and stronger, so he hits the ball a little bit farther, but he has a very, very good looking swing, some good mental toughness to him. I believe that we'll see tremendous improvement out of him."
Yet, the Rangers could have more than just depth working for them on the golf course this season. They also could be top-heavy, too. Chris thinks Brant and Edele will battle for No. 1 all year, and that each have the capability to shoot par each round. "It's hard to shoot par or better each round, but they have the ability," the coach said. It will depend on their ability to manage adversity from a psychological standpoint and focus on the next opportunity, Chris said.
This is all the beginning of what he envisions as a seven-year stretch for Forest Park golf. He's high on some sixth graders who are among the best in the area. Tretter sees the talent, too, in his seventh- and eighth-grade golfers.
"In golf, you can tell by how they swing, what kind of short game they have, how strong they are mentally," Tretter said. "You can already see that at a very young age. It's not about how high I can jump, how fast I can run, how big and strong I am when I'm in the sixth grade. What kind of actual game do I have that will translate into my later years? You can see that in golf."
Practice was scheduled to begin Monday. However, Forest Park activities, including practices, have all been pushed back to April 3 in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Tretter told The Herald by text Friday afternoon that they must have 10 practices prior to any matches, per Indiana High School Athletic Association rules. The coach added that athletic director Doug Louden told him the Rangers' first allowed match is April 18, which is the scheduled date of the Washington Invitational.
Tretter told his golfers to be in shape when they report to practice, and that they should be working on their game, since local golf courses are open.
He said, though, that every returning golfer from last year has shown improvement going into this season.
"I know that sounds cliché or, 'Oh, you don't want to single anybody out,' but it's true," he said. "(Assistant) Coach (John) Bertges and I were talking about this over the last several weeks. We're seeing improvement out of every single one of our players, and that is great to see."
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