Alexandria emphasizes room for improvement early in the season after winning home meet
Three Cardinals finished in the top ten on Thursday at Geneva Golf Club. Alexandria cruised to a home meet win over conference and section rivals while stressing there are still strokes to shave off.
Sustained success has elevated the Alexandria boys golf program to a perennial state power. But after missing competitive golf at the high school level in 2020, this spring is about getting back to basics.
The Cardinals finished with a team score of 305, which was good enough for first place in their lone home meet of the season at Geneva Golf Club on Thursday afternoon. Sophomore Braeden Sladek led the pack with a low score of 70. He was the only competitor to go under par on the day.
“It was a fun day out there,” Sladek said. “It felt good to be back and playing Geneva. There’s a little bit of rust for all of us, but we’re knocking it off. We should be coming around here pretty soon. We’ve been hitting inside and stuff, but it felt great to be back out here at Geneva.”
Not too far behind Sladek was junior Andrew Swedberg and senior Grant Rebrovich. Swedberg tied for third with a 76, while Rebrovich’s 77 was tied for sixth.
“It felt like spring golf again,” Rebrovich said. “There’s a lot of nerves and rust when you get right into it. I went right from playing hockey to jumping into golf, so there’s a lot of stuff I’m still working on. I made a lot of progress today, so I’m happy with that.”
Eighth-grader Carver Larson’s score of 82 was the fourth lowest for Alexandria golfers. Freshman Bennett Olson (84) and senior Wyatt Cavers (90) rounded out the day for the Cardinals in their first team win of the season.
“It was great to get back and get the competitive juices flowing,” Alexandria head coach Brady Swedberg said. “We had pretty good conditions today with a little wind. It wasn’t 35 degrees like it has been, and I think that helped us out a lot. Every single one of them is knocking the rust off. That’s what spring golf is for the first few weeks. It’s trying to get back into a rhythm, and today was a good day for these guys to continue to do that.”
Under Swedberg’s tenure, Alexandria has won two Central Lakes Conference championships and has placed second and fourth at state. The Cardinals are pushing aside those expectations to repeat success, for now, to focus on the little things.
“We don’t like to focus on the expectations,” Swedberg said. “We’re trying to get better every day. We know the expectations are there whether they’re from the outside or inside, and rightfully so. We have a track record, and we have some depth and talent. At the same time, there’s a lot of young kids. It’s going to take some time to gain that experience for the younger guys.”
The Cardinals have a mix of veterans and newcomers. For the golfers such as Sladek and Rebrovich, who have been around the program and competed in big spots before, their experience is a crutch for this team in the early part of the season.
“I’m really enjoying being a leader on this team,” Rebrovich said. “Even though a lot of these guys are super young, they’ve been my buddies forever. We’re a really tight group, and we’re competing with each other every day. It’s going to make us better in the long run.”
While Swedberg can only put six guys in the lineup for a varsity meet, he has a handful of athletes competing for spots.
“We have seven or eight guys fighting for the final spots,” Swedberg said. “Some of them have experience while others have almost none. We have a lot of qualifiers and will play a lot of golf for these guys to try and earn their spots. The more these guys play, the more comfortable and confident they’re going to be. They’re a competitive group. At the end of the year, we will have our six best guys playing, and I’m confident they’re going to be ready to go.”
The Cardinals are two meets into the year and have a good idea of what teams and golfers are eyeing the top of the leaderboard. Sladek, who hopes to compete for the top spot each meet, is enjoying the atmosphere of having consistent competition.
“We have a lot of talent and high expectations,” Sladek said. “We hope to win every meet as a team. I have to make more putts to keep shooting under par. Consistency is a big thing for me. It’s a little bit too early to tell who the teams to beat are, but there are three or four teams that look good that we’re going to contend with.”