Herb storms to state golf title

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton senior Emmet Herb shot 6-under-par, 138, to win the WIAA Division 1 individual state golf championship. Herb’s score was just two shots off the state record./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Madison — One of many things that makes Emmet Herb one of the state’s elite golfers is his temperament.

It doesn’t seem to matter if Herb goes low — or high — his facial expressions, body language and mood rarely change.

But Tuesday evening, the typically calm and collected Herb turned to mush. Then again, he is human.

Herb walked off the 18th green at University Ridge Golf Course as the WIAA Division 1 state champion. He was soon doused with water by his teammates. And when Herb saw his fellow seniors, the finality of it all set in and the tears began to flow.

“I just kind of realized that this was the end,” Herb said. “There’s a lot of memories with these guys.”

None better that the ones Herb made Monday and Tuesday.

Herb shot 6-under-par, 138, in the two-day tournament. Not only did Herb win the state title by seven shots, he posted the third-lowest score in state history.

In the process, Herb led Middleton to a second place finish overall. Marquette won its first-ever state title shooting a blistering two-day total of 598, eight shots better than the Cardinals.

“I love Emmet Herb. I just love that kid,” Middleton coach Tom Cabalka gushed afterwards. “He never gets too up, he never gets too down. He’s just so, so steady.”

Herb became the fourth individual state champion in school history, joining Brad Nelson (1993), Jon Turcott (1997) and Mike Schilling (2010).

“What Emmet did was unbelievable and I think it kind of helped cement our legacy,” said MHS senior Joey Levin, who finished 17th individually. “We had four unbelievable years and this was really a great way to cap it off.”

Herb’s two rounds will be talked about inside Middleton’s program for years to come.

The 130-pound Herb certainly doesn’t look like an intimidator. But Herb brought University Ridge to its knees.

Herb shot a 4-under-par, 68, on Monday’s first day and held a five shot lead over two players. Herb then shot a 2-under-par, 70, on Tuesday, which was the best final round score in Division 1.

“He played incredible golf,” said Marquette junior Harrison Ott, who played with Herb the final day and finished in a tie for second individually at 1-over-par, 145. “He just never made any mistakes. He was really, really consistent.”

That’s always been the story of the Herb’s game.

Herb has never been long off the tees, but his ball is rarely outside the fairway. Herb stays out of trouble, has a beautiful iron game and is a magician with the putter.

All of those magnificent skills were on display during Herb’s glorious run to a title.

“To be honest, Emmet is just a great, great player,” said Cardinals senior Brady Thomas. “He can flat out play the game.”

Herb showed the rest of the state exactly that. In the process, he made a scintillating run at the state record of 136 held by a pair of Homestead players — Andy Hansen in 2006 and Jordan Niebrugge in 2012.

Herb’s opening round 68 was made possible thanks to his dominance on the par-5s. Herb played the five par-5s in 6-under-par, highlighted by an eagle 3 at No. 16.

“The par-5s were big,” said Herb, who will play collegiately at NCAA Division III power St. Thomas (Minn.). “Those were really important to my round.”


At No. 2, Herb went driver-pitching wedge, then two-putted for a birdie. At No. 6, Herb smacked his drive down the middle of the fairway, laid up to 88 yards, then hit a wedge to 5-feet and made the birdie putt.

At No. 9, Herb hit a perfect drive, punched a three wood close to the green, then pitched to 5-feet and made the birdie putt. At No. 11, Herb’s 4-iron from 237 yards landed 20-feet from the hole, then he two putted for birdie.

Herb birdie the par-3 12th hole when he drilled a 35-foot birdie putt. And at the par-5, 16th hole, Herb canned a 10-foot eagle putt to move to 6-under-par.

Herb came to the 17th hole with a chance to tie, or break Hansen’s state record of 65, before finishing with consecutive bogeys. Herb’s 68 was the lowest round at state ever recorded by a Middleton player.

“It was pretty good,” Herb said of his round. “Obviously the last two holes were kind of a bummer, but I thought I played pretty well. I was pretty confident going into today, but I really didn’t expect to get to 6-under.”

Middleton also counted 77s from Thomas and Levin. The Cardinals were hurt, though, when No. 4 and 5 golfers Nils Arneson and Andy Zucker both shot 82.

Middleton’s 304 team score left it in second place after the opening round. But Marquette went extremely low with a 295 — the second lowest round in Division 1 history — and took a comfortable lead into the second day.

“Obviously, the last two years going into the second day, it was like, ‘Well, let’s just go and have fun,’ ” said Herb, whose team played its way out of contention in 2014 and ’15 with rough opening rounds. “So it does feel good to be in a position to help my team out.”

Herb didn't miss a beat during a steady second round, either.

Herb made birdie for the second straight day at the par-5, second hole. Then he birdied the par-4, fourth hole to move to 6-under-par.

Herb also made a birdie at the par-5 ninth, made the turn at 33 and moved to 7-under for the tournament.

“The whole thing was pretty cool,” Herb said. “My swing just felt really good at the right time. I think I just lucked out.”

Herb made seven straight pars to start his back nine and missed a pair of birdie chances along the way. Herb missed a 5-foot birdie putt at No. 14 and settled for par at the very scoreable par-5, 16th.

Herb’s shot at history slipped away when he made his only bogey of the day at the par-3, 17th hole. But Herb’s state title was already a formality, then he made it official with a steady par on No. 18.

Shortly thereafter, when it began sinking in that the end was now here, Herb was overcome with emotion.

“It’s hitting me pretty hard that this is about it,” Herb said. “Wow. Usually I’m not an emotional person, but this is it for me.”

But what a final act.

Herb missed just one green Tuesday and only three for the tournament.

Herb played the par-5s in 8-under-par and averaged just 4.20 on those holes. The next best score in the field was 4.50 by Green Bay Preble’s Isaac Prefontaine.

Herb also averaged 3.10 on the par-3s and 4.06 on the par-4s in an unforgettable performance.

“He just played remarkable golf,” Cabalka said. “You can’t say enough good things about Emmet.”

There was plenty of good things to say about the Cardinals, as well. Middleton’s second round 302-team score tied for the best total of the day.

Levin carded a steady 75, while Zucker shot a 77 and Arneson carded an 80.

But the Hilltoppers never flinched, posting a second round 303, while keeping Middleton at arms length throughout the round.

“When a team like that shoots 598, you just tip your hat to them,” Cabalka said. “What are you going to do? Marquette just played great golf.”

Middleton crept within six strokes as both teams neared the end of the front nine. But the Hilltoppers quickly pushed their lead back to nine and kept a steady advantage throughout the back nine.

“They’re like a college team,” Arrowhead coach Greg Budzien said of Marquette. “Man, they’re good. It was just their year.”

Around Middleton, though, it will be remembered as Herb’s year.

“You couldn't have scripted it any better,” said the unassuming Herb. “Just a great, great two days.”


WIAA Division 1 state tournament

At University Ridge

Par 72; 6,477 Yards

Team scores — 1, Milw. Marquette 598; 2, Middleton 606; 3, Kaukauna 618; 4, Eau Claire North 624; 5 (tie), Arrowhead and Madison Memorial, 626; 7, Bay Port 629; 8, Cedarburg 630; 9 (tie), Stevens Point and Lake Geneva Badger, 634; 11, Brookfield Central 635; 12, Green Bay Notre Dame 646; 13, Muskego 649; 14, Franklin 668; 15, Kettle Moraine 669; 16, DeForest 679.

Individual scores— 138: Emmet Herb, Middleton.

145: Matt Tolan, Eau Claire North; Harrison Ott, Milw. Marquette. 147: T4 Bennett Knapek, Arrowhead; Jacob O'Loughlin, Madison Memorial. 148: Nate Thomson, Greendale; Matt Tuman, Wausau East; Robbie Morway, Homestead; Matt Polivka, Muskego. 149: Jack Dorward, Cedarburg.

150: Tyler Cleaves, Kaukauna; Evan Hussey, Milw. Marquette. 151: Andrew Clement, Pewaukee; Jake Schroeckenthaler, Monona Grove; Logan Comte, Eau Claire North; Jack Blair, Milw. Marquette. 152: Adam Garski, Wauwatosa East/West; Devon Hanson, West Bend East; David Keane, Milw. Marquette; Joey Levin, Middleton. 153: Isaac Prefontaine, Green Bay Preble; Sam Galloway, Neenah; John Haselwander, Eau Claire North. 154: Dawson Hinz, Baraboo; Sean Yun, Brookfield Central; Luke Bourneuf, Lake Geneva Badger. 155: Austin Barr, Waukesha West; Peter Dorward, Cedarburg; Taylor Thomas, Stevens Point; Zach Kimball, Kaukauna; George Weitz, Madison Memorial; Jed Baranczyk, Bay Port.156: Alex Yost, Arrowhead; Kyle Breitenfeldt, Bay Port; Brock Hilnak, Kaukauna.157: Evan Powers, Pulaski; Josh Trasser, Brookfield Central. 158: Ryan Wikel, Muskego; Jonathan Duggan, Lake Geneva Badger. 159: Ben Peterson, Kimberly; Charlie Okray, Stevens Point; Jake Neerdaels, Bay Port; Andy Zucker, Middleton; Jackson Rademaker, Lake Geneva Badger; Adam Thiede, Kaukauna.

160: Matthew Raab, Arrowhead; Max Bancker, Stevens Point; Austin Mikesch, Bay Port; Patrick Darling, Green Bay Notre Dame; Ryan Konop, Green Bay Notre Dame; Brady Thomas, Middleton. 161: George Kneiser, Oconomowoc; Blake Skogen, River Falls; Mason Brethower, DeForest; Logan Knecht, Madison Memorial; Mason Schmidt, Kaukauna; Zach Mindel, Brookfield Central; Steven Butler, Milw. Marquette. 162: James Maney, Waterford; Bentley Glass, Fort Atkinson; Evan Thomas, Stevens Point; Steven Young, Cedarburg; Matthew Schilling, Kettle Moraine; Nils Arneson, Middleton; Max Baranczyk, Bay Port.163: Dylan Brown, Reedsburg Area; David Phillips, Kettle Moraine; Bryce Piotrowski, Madison Memorial. 164: Jackson Rehm, Franklin; Jake Hofmeister, Stevens Point; Jack Anderson, Brookfield Central; Robert Petijean, Green Bay Notre Dame. 165: Kyle Mazurek, Arrowhead; Connor Duggan, Lake Geneva Badger. 166: Derek Michalski, Marshfield; Zachary Reiser, Arrowhead; Adam Denk, Cedarburg; Nolan Ruffing, Franklin; Mitchell Ott, Franklin; Nick Wagner, Green Bay Notre Dame; Kevin Hersberger, Brookfield Central; Ethan Diestler, Green Bay Notre Dame. 167: Zach Kramer, Westosha Central; Brett Muzzy, Wilmot Union; Ethan Carrick, Sun Prairie. 169: Sam Krause, Cedarburg; Austin White, Muskego.

170: Blake Wisdom, Lake Geneva Badger. 171: Jared Otterlee, Kettle Moraine.172: Steve Mulchay, DeForest; Brett Grulkowski, Franklin; Tyler Ray, DeForest.173: T. Johnson/J. Smith, Kettle Moraine; Jack Andringa, Madison Memorial. 174: Brett Quigley, De Pere; Tony Pachocha, Muskego; Matt Unger, DeForest. 175: Eli McCarty, Eau Claire North. 177: Garhett Kaegi, Verona Area.

180: Tyler Reiland, Eau Claire North. 182: Kyle Loose, Kettle Moraine. 184: Jared Horner, Muskego; Andrew Doucette, DeForest. 189: Andrew Niemiec, Franklin.


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