Middleton golfers have big hill to climb

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Joey Levin and Middleton's boys golf team are in third place after the first round of the WIAA Division 1 state tournament./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Verona — Middleton’s boys golf team experienced a case of déjà vu at University Ridge on Monday.

And it was the kind of experience the Cardinals could have lived without.

Middleton shot an opening round 320 at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament and sits in third place overall, 14 shots behind first-place Arrowhead.

One year ago, the Cardinals shot a first round 321 and were 13 shots off the lead. Middleton rallied on the second day, tied for the tournament’s lowest score, but finished in fourth place.

Now, Middleton — which had title aspirations when this tournament began — hopes its first-day struggles won’t doom its championship dreams.

“Well, we dug a hole and we’ve got to dig ourselves out,” Cardinals coach Tom Cabalka said. “But the good thing is we know we can do it.

“These kids all know they have a lot better game than they showed today. We just have to come out and play a lot better tomorrow.”

Middleton junior Joey Levin, who led the Cardinals with a 77, agreed with his head coach.

“We’re going to need a really good day tomorrow,” Levin said. “We have to hope Arrowhead feels the pressure and we all play the round of our lives.”

Middleton, which entered the tournament with a season-average of 312, certainly wasn’t at its best Monday.

The Cardinals started on the back nine, and Levin shot an even par, 36, there. But Levin took a triple bogey 8 at the par-5, No. 2 after his ball was plugged in a bunker.

Freshman Henry Taylor, playing in the No. 5 spot, had a spectacular day with a 7-over-par, 79. Taylor shot a 37 on the front nine that featured birdies at No. 2 and 4.

But junior Emmet Herb, Middleton’s No. 1 player, struggled with an 82. And junior Brady Thomas, the Cardinals’ No. 3 player, also shot an 82.

Middleton tossed Nils Arneson’s 83.

“We can all play a lot better,” Levin said. “We know it's going to be a tough task to come all the way back. But on any given day, anything can happen.”

The Cardinals can certainly draw on their 2014 experiences before Tuesday’s final round.

While Middleton couldn’t charge to the top of the leaderboard, it did move from ninth place to fourth. If the Cardinals can make a similar second-day push, anything remains possible.

Middleton certainly is capable of making a charge. The Cardinals shot a 295 at regionals and a 300 at the Lake Country Charity Invitational held at Erin Hills.

It will likely take an effort like that again. But Middleton has done it before.

“We’re certainly capable,” Cabalka said. “We just need four really good rounds and everybody at their best.

“We’ve had days like that throughout the year. We just need another one (Tuesday).”

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