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Could small Cru golf squad be a cornerstone?

The jobs of being a teacher and a coach in a high school sport commonly overlap and are not separated by the 3 p.m. bell that ends the lessons of the school day and begins the athletes’ learning in practices.

For Marquette Academy golf coach Mark Vickroy, there is going to be an even smaller difference between those portions of the day this fall.

This year’s Crusaders are a small group, overall as short on depth as they are on experience, but the coach sees plenty of potential and hopefully the beginnings of a solid program in both numbers and in play.

“To be honest, we’re going to be a very young team and there are only seven of us, though we hope to pick up a few more when we get into classes,” said Vickroy, who will have more opportunity to teach the game thanks to new assistant coach, Dustin Schmeckpeper. “A couple of them haven’t played the game very much, but you have to start somewhere. The good thing about that is that they don’t have any bad habits … and we’re very glad to have them with us.”

Absent will be the team’s only sectional qualifier, Gary Duffield, who advanced two years ago but missed last year despite being the MA's top regional scorer. He’s transferred to Ottawa.

That leaves just three players with varsity experience, time that includes taking part in that St. Bede Regional a year ago. All of them are now sophomores.

The first, Sean Kissel, was second only to Duffield at the regional with a 94. According to Vickroy, he is a strong, athletic hitter who needs to refine the finesse portion of his game. Also returning is Alex Barker, who was next among MA’s regional finishers. The coach said he has the tools, and if he can play with more confidence, it will show in his scores. Classmate Gabe Malosh, according to the coach, can score well but needs the focus to bounce back from the occasional bad shot.

On the team for the first time are freshmen Nick Denton, Nathan Scherer and Racer Schmeckpeper, and the lone girl in the program, senior Kaylor Speirer.

The team will open the season August 21 at the Midland Invitational.

“We may not end up with a very good winning percentage, as they will all be learning as we go along,” Vickroy said, “learning what our mistakes are and how to correct them, learning how to manage the course, learning how to play smart and then to take chances and when not, learning how to play within themselves. If we can keep them focused and keep the attitude up, we’ll be OK.

“I’m excited. This is definitely going to be a building year for us. We may not be a barnburner, but we won’t be crying, either. … If we can keep all the ones we have out now and add a few more next year, we will have a nice core for the next several years.”

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