Youthful team set to begin

Minnesota boasts a young roster with only two upperclassmen.

Minnesotas Jose Mendez plays at the season-opening Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm Golf Club on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2013.

Daily File Photo, Chelsea Gortmaker

Minnesota’s Jose Mendez plays at the season-opening Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm Golf Club on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2013.

by Betsy Helfand

When Jon Trasamar graduated, the Gophers didn’t just lose one of their best golfers — they also lost their captain.

Minnesota will open up its fall slate at the Gopher Invitational with just two upperclassmen on its roster, allowing the opportunity for new leaders to step up.

Tyler Lowenstein is the team’s only senior, and Jon DuToit is the lone junior.

“I think over the course of the year, we’re going to see [Lowenstein] move into a leadership role and hopefully take Jon DuToit with him in that role,” head coach John Carlson said.

Lowenstein said the pair has tried to help its younger teammates acclimate to collegiate golf.

“We’re just trying to help the younger kids learn what college golf is about,” Lowenstein said, “[and] how to handle themselves on the course and off the golf course.”

Some of the “younger kids” have become leaders in their own right.

That includes sophomores Jose Mendez, the team’s top golfer, and Matt Rachey, among others.

“Matt Rachey is a leader,” Carlson said. “The guys look up to him. He’ll be an Academic All-American someday. So off the course, I don’t have to worry about him at all. Matt’s going to be that guy, I think, going forward.”

Rachey, who was a captain of his high school basketball and golf teams, said he has been trying to pass tips to his younger teammates.

“[I’m] just giving them advice. … I know that the guys last year did it for me, so I’m just going to relay the message onto these new guys,” Rachey said.

Rachey said a group of golfers, including himself, was going to have to step up this season.

“Even though it’s an individual sport … there’s still a big team aspect to it,” Rachey said.

On the course, Mendez is the team’s top golfer.

Mendez was the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and tied for first individually at the Big Ten championships.

Mendez is one of the team’s four returning sophomores, and he gained a wealth of tournament experience last season.

“We’re all trying to compete with him, and he’s kind of leading us, golfing-wise,” Rachey said.

Of the returners, Mendez, DuToit and Lowenstein saw the most tournament play last season.

“We’re going to win against some really good fields, and then there’s going to be some rounds where I’ll be doing some head scratching and trying to figure out why we played the way we did, but I also am going to understand that these young guys are going to make mistakes,” Carlson said.

Despite that, he seemed confident his young team would find its way.

“I think we’re going to have a little bit more up and down this year, but I also think our up is going to be better than it’s ever been,” Carlson said.