At the midway point of the boys' golf season, two players have played well and are steadily improving their scores. Cecil Belisle and Michael Stoffel lead the Red Wing boys' golf team and are the two with a path to state.
Red Wing head coach Nate Gale said the team as a whole shouldn't be focused on state right now, but said Stoffel, and especially Belisle, are probably setting their sights on state competition.
"Earlier in the season (the team) didn't play great, but part of it is weather related," Gale said. "Michael has always been kind of a slow starter. He's been one that seems to play better in May when the weather warms up and he finds his groove. (Belisle) is pretty automatic. He is as good as any player in the state. At any given day, he can go out and shoot under par."
The rest of the Wingers are fighting for the remaining spots to help the team get back to state, where the team finished third last season. The Wingers as a team finished 19 strokes off the winner, Holy Family Catholic.
Last season, Belisle finished in third place with a 139 - three strokes off the leader Nate Deziel. Gale said Belisle, who won the state title in 2017, is developing a popularity among his competitors.
Leaving snowy conditions, the Duluth Denfeld head coach called Gale with a request he hears often, Denfeld's best golfer wanted to play with Belisle.
"Most of the teams know of Cecil," Gale said, "especially the ones with better players because they play together in the summertime and have played together growing up. He's pretty well-known in the inner circle of high school golf."
As for the rest of the team behind Belisle and Stoffel, Gale said he'd like to see a balanced, more consistent approach. Part of the approach is knowing the course and keeping emotions in check.
"Sometimes bad shots are leading to bad decisions," Gale said. "When they hit a bad shot, they just need to relax and trust a plan they have rather than make up for the shot without trying to be a hero on the next one."
Trying to help Belisle and Stoffel lead the team back to state are Mac DeSutter and Cole Krie, who each have state experience. Gale said in the coming weeks, the final two spots will be determined and the Wingers can focus on improving upon last season's finish.
On Friday, Red Wing won its home invitational with a team score of 310. Belisle (1-under-par 70), Stoffel (75), Krie (82) and DeSutter (83) were the Wingers' scorers.