PELLA — Joel Rietema enters his fourth season of rebuilding the Pella Christian boys golf program after missing out on the 2020 season due to the pandemic. He will lose six seniors from the last two years but will see his team size double since the Eagles last took to the links.
“I’m excited to what hidden talent came out during quarantine,” Rietema said. “We lost some good players in Cole [Webster] and [Micah] Mitchell but we are continuing to build the program into a legitimate contender in the LHC in the next couple years.”
PC returns three players from 2019 in seniors Nathaniel Veenstra and Zach De Vries along with junior Kyle Gao.
All three were underclassmen last time they played for the Eagles. Gao was the only one who saw varsity time of the three, posting a 96.6 scoring average per 18-hole round, which was third best on the team that season despite just being a freshman.
Joining those three will be a big group of newcomers with a variety of playing experience in EJ Fransman, Jaedon Huisman, Joe Diehl, Caleb Van Arendonk, Mason Westercamp, Aiden Stoltz, Game Huisken and Isaiah Breems.
Some of these guys don’t have a lot of experience in competitive golf, along with the upperclassmen returnees, so the team will all be learning on the fly this season.
“We have strong underclassmen talent, more coming up next year from eighth grade, some strong beginner talent and a couple key returners,” Rietma said. “We are not at the level of the talented programs like Osky, Pella and Grinnell but we are getting there and hope to make big strides this year.”
PC sent one golfer to districts in 2019, took seventh in the LHC meet, fourth at sectionals and sixth at their home invite. Those will be good bars to set as some tough early tournaments should prepare an inexperienced group for important play late in the season.
“All of our tournaments will be tough to contend in,” Rietema said. “The courses we play at during the season are in great shape and very playable. We practice at a tough course so hopefully that will help us as the season progresses towards the postseason and hopefully we can be at peak form for the PC Invite before the conference meet and sectionals.”