GGF golf preview: Red River off to strong start despite missing a clear No. 1

Roughriders won the first three Eastern Dakota Conference meets of the season.

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GRAND FORKS – The Grand Forks Red River boys golf team doesn’t have a star this spring like it has had in the recent past.

Adam Van Raden was the 2018 North Dakota Class A state medalist and played a role in the Roughriders winning state as a team from 2017 to 2019. Van Raden is now golfing at NCAA Division I Austin Peay.

And last season, the Roughriders rode the play of Zach Hinschberger, who lost in a playoff hole at the state meet after tying for medalist honors. Hinschberger now golfs at UND.

The Roughriders might not have that consistent front-runner but the Riders have rattled off team wins to start the season regardless.

Red River returns seven golfers who competed at the state meet last season and all seven finished in the Top 50 at state last year.


The Riders won the first three meets of the season before finishing third and second. West Fargo Sheyenne and Fargo Davies have been neck-and-neck with Red River.

“So far, we haven’t had a person identify themselves as a true No. 1 like we’ve had in the past, but we have a lot of kids who are good Nos. 2 and 3, so we have a lot of depth,” Red River coach Nathan Olson said. “That depth allowed us to win some meets early on.”

Red River’s top golfer so far this season has been senior Brandon Riesinger, who’s ranked fourth in the Eastern Dakota Conference with an average of 77.0.

Jake Skarperud of Fargo Shanley has the best average at 73.6, followed by Fargo Davies’ Gabe Benson (75.0) and West Fargo Sheyenne’s Nate Peyerl (76.0).

Red River junior Saylor Kuenzel ranks seventh at 78.4, while classmate Jack Miller is 12th, Jake Grandstrand is 13th, Skyler Syverson is 16th and Carson Skarperud is 17th.

“I think as the year goes on, Brandon or Saylor are certainly capable of asserting themselves as No. 1s,” Olson said. “And Jake Grandstrand has been a medalist at a meet for us out of the sixth spot.”

Riesinger came on strong late last season. He golfed as an independent at the state meet.

“If we put him in our Top 6 at state last year, we would have won state,” Olson said. “He has been Top 10 at every meet so far. For a kid who was in that six to eight spot last year, he’s been our most consistent.”


Ggf golf at a glance

GF Red River boys

Coach: Nathan Olson.

2021 finish: First place at EDC meet, second at state.

Key returners: Jr. Saylor Kuenzel (all-EDC, fifth at state); jr. Carson Skarperud (19th at state); sr. Brandon Riesinger (19th at state); sr. Jake Grandstrand (34th at state); sr. Skylar Syverson (41st at state); soph. Grant Gardner (43rd at state); jr. Jack Miller (50th at state); sr. Cooper Freije; sr. Ethan Badolato; sr. Zach Benson.

Top newcomers: Jr. Zach Laframboise; soph. Ross Koerner.

Coach Olson says: “We’re going to have to keep our depth and make sure that stays our strength. We need scores in the 70s out of the four, five and six (golfers in the lineup). We’ve had a lot of people in the mid to high 70s. For us to win state, we need a couple guys get closer to par. That would be our key, to have our depth complement some low scores. We are better in the five and six (spots in the lineup) than everyone.”

GF Central boys

Coach: Josh Cichy.

2021 finish: Fourth place at EDC meet, seventh at state.


Key returners: Sr. Brady McGarry (all-EDC, 24th at state); sr. Kyle Fulton (38th at state).

Top newcomers: Sr. Connor Litzinger; soph. Evan Panzer; sr. Hunter Anderson; fr. Mack Blue.

Coach Cichy says: “It’s kind of a down year in terms of our depth but we have potential to be a top four or five team. We’re sort of middle of the pack right now. In order to qualify for state as a team, we need to be in top six at regional and we are kind of right there. It’ll depend on how we’re playing at the end of the season. I don’t think we’ve seen what we can do yet. Brady is a guy who can get low, and he should be around even par. Kyle has potential to go low, too.”

EGF Senior High boys

Coach: Jay Frydenlund

2021 finish: Fourth at subsection.

Key returners: Sr. Adam Vatnsdal; soph. Lucas Wavra; eighth-grader Gavin Rude.

Coach Frydenlund says: “We’ve got about 12 guys who are fairly even, and we’ve been trying to get them as much experience as we can because we lack experience. We’re trying to get kids playing a little better, so we can have a clue what would be our best team come subsection time.”

EGF Senior High girls

Coach: Paula Devine.

2021 finish: Second at subsection.

Key returners: Sr. Aleah Oshie (ninth at subsection); sr. Kenady Burris; soph. Kayla Thompson (seventh at subsection); fr. Jill Frost.

Top newcomers: Jr. Brooke Kovar; sr. Lauren Rusk.

Coach DeVine says: “The top four that were on the subsection team last year have lots of experience. It’s been a tricky year for spring sports. We basically got outside for the first time last week. It’s going to be a lot of golf in the next three weeks. It’s a good group of kids. They’re all capable of breaking 100, for sure. It’s just whether we can get to that point in a hurry.”

Related Topics: GF RED RIVER
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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