Thomas twins boost Panthers golf
The Panthers have qualified for state the last four years. The players say they have the depth and talent not only to return to state, but move higher on the leaderboard.
“The past four years we’ve been to state in golf but never really did anything,” senior Joel Oxton said. “It would be nice to get in the top three.”
Last season the boys were sixth at state. They lost their No. 1 golfer, Adam Petterson, to graduation, but everyone else is back.
“We have six players who can shoot 75 on any given day,” sophomore Freddy Thomas said. “If we can get it matched up on the same day, we can win any tournament.”
“I think we have a lot more experience than we’ve had in the past,” said Bobby Thomas, Freddy’s twin brother. “We have a lot more guys who have played at multiple state tournaments.”
Bobby and Freddy Thomas, now sophomores, played major roles on Lakeville North’s state tournament teams in 2010 and 2011. They’re teammates, but they’re also brothers, and the sibling rivalry is fierce.
“Sometimes he gets mad when I beat him, but it helps to have that,” Bobby Thomas said. “He played varsity in seventh grade when I was hurt, and he played in the state tournament, so I had to watch him. Ever since then I wanted to beat him.”
Each brother wants the other to score well, just not lower.
“If I hear he’s ahead of me midway through the round, I go for birdies,” Freddy Thomas said.
Their goals include winning the South Suburban Conference title and going to state. To get there, they know it will have to be together.
And although they’re twins, they each have their own set of golf skills.
“He’s more of a control player where I just like to rip it,” Bobby Thomas said. “Watching him helps me work on my weaknesses.”
The twins have big plans for their sophomore years and beyond. Bobby Thomas would like to break into the 60s this season. Freddy Thomas consistently shoots in the 70s, but he would like to add a few yards to his drives.
They don’t intend to quit playing after high school.
“I want to make a living out of golf,” Bobby Thomas said.
Freddy Thomas has his sights set on playing for the University of Wisconsin.
The Thomas twins also play numerous summer tournaments. Last summer during the Minnesota PGA Players Tour, Freddy Thomas finished sixth in the rankings and Bobby Thomas was seventh.
The Panthers have accomplished athletes such as Oxton and Trey Heid back on the team. Both have hopes of scoring in the low 70s and earning all-conference honors.
“They made huge jumps last year,” assistant coach Scott Thomas said. “If they can maintain that, we’re looking good. I’d say expectations are pretty high. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it.”
Rounding out the lineup are Joey Smits, Mike Oberg and Garrett Gidlow.
“We’ve been one score away from being right there (in the top three at state),” head coach Steve Sabetti said. “Hopefully this is the year where we find that guy.”
The first goal is to win the South Suburban Conference.
The first conference tournament is scheduled Monday at Minnesota Valley Country Club.
Lakeville North also will play in the Tri-State Invitational, the most prestigious meet of the season next to the state tournament. The Tri-State Invitational will be April 27-28 at Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park.
Since winning the Class AAA state title in 2009, the Lakeville North girls team hasn’t been back. The Panthers are hoping to change that in 2012.
Christi Vetter and Chelsea Crego were two of the top golfers in the South Suburban Conference last season. Add Brianna Vetter to the list and the Panthers have the makings of a competitive group.
Still, the Panthers have a young lineup with just one senior (Katherine Albrecht), and they need more than three low scores to compete with the likes of Eastview and Eagan.
The girls will play at the Wilds in Prior Lake on Tuesday, and its first South Suburban Conference meet is Wednesday at Valleywood in Apple Valley. They will be hosts of an invitational Thursday at Heritage Links.