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Tom Mix, Published May 28 2012

Podolak guides daughter's Kindred squad to another state golf berth

KINDRED, N.D. – Mike Podolak has experienced a lot in his golf career.

The Oxbow, N.D., golfer played collegiately, amassed a successful amateur career and even qualified to play in two pro events two years ago.

This spring, Podolak added coach to his golfing resume. He is in his first year of coaching the Kindred High School girls golf team, who will be representing Region 2 at the North Dakota Class B state meet set to begin 9 a.m. today and runs through Wednesday at the CrossRoads Golf Course in Carrington.

“I think they are ready to play,” Podolak said. “They enjoy being on the golf course and they are excited to be playing at state.”

The Vikings have won every meet they have played in this spring and have consistently been averaging team totals in the 350 to 360 stroke range.

Kindred’s youthful varsity squad is made up of eighth-grader Madeline Braaten, freshman Lexi Piatz, sophomore Savanna Nesemeier and the junior trio of Mikaela Casey, Emma Ilvedson and Laura Podolak – Mike’s daughter.

Initially, Mike Podolak wasn’t sure how he would be received as a head coach, but the team has flourished in part because of his direction and vast knowledge of the game.

“I thought at first they might be intimidated by me, but they have responded well,” Mike Podolak said. “I haven’t been too technical. They have reacted to me positively and are great listeners.”

Another uncertainty was coaching his daughter. Laura has been getting pointers from her dad since she started playing, but never in the formal setting of the prep golf ranks.

“In the beginning I wasn’t sure how it would go,” Laura Podolak said. “We have connected on a different level and he has been helping me and the other golfers on the team a lot.”

The Vikings didn’t graduate a single player from last season’s team, which held a five-stroke lead after the first day of the state meet a year ago only to finish second to Napoleon on Day 2.

A year wiser and another season of golf to its credit, Kindred is looking to contend again in the team race.

“My girls understand that every shot you save without shooting out of frustration will lead to more good decisions on the golf course,” Mike Podolak said. “It is surprising how often it can come down to one or two shots even in the team race.”

Laura Podolak paced the Vikings at state a year ago, finishing fourth in the individual competition.

“I’m more confident in my game and I’m ready for state,” Laura Podolak said. “I’m 100 percent my team is ready. If we each try to win our group, we will do well.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 451-5651


THREE THINGS TO WATCH IN ND CLASS B STATE BOYS GOLF MEET

1. Kindred going for two

The Vikings won the state team title by seven strokes a year ago. Returning players David Talley, Tyler Holland, Ian Anderson and Cody Pulczinski scored in Kindred’s top 6 at the state meet last season.

2. Rustavang repeat?

Senior Fargo Oak Grove golfer Michael Rustvang

is looking to become the first player to win back-to-back individual medalist honors since

Griggs County Central’s Jayme Gronneberg did it

in 1996 and 1997.

3. Home course advantage

Oxbow Country Club is the home course of the Kindred Vikings, who have held practices at the course the entire spring. Rustvang, a resident of Oxbow, plays the course regularly.


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