Boys golfers clinch share of Big 8

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Ross Johnson and Middleton's boys golfers clinched a share of the Big Eight Conference last week./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Tom Cabalka was focused on the micro, not the macro. In the end, that approach paid off in spades.

Cabalka, Middleton’s deep-rooted boys golf coach, has spent the spring completely focused on getting his Cardinals better.

Last Friday, that improvement and growth helped the Cardinals achieve one of their major goals — and caught their head coach off guard in the process.

Middleton won the hotly-contested Madison West Triangular at Odana Hills, firing a season-best 310. The Cardinals edged runner-up Janesville Parker (312) and Madison West (324).

The impressive wins helped Middleton improve to 8-1 in Big Eight Conference dual meets and tie Madison Memorial for the league title. The Spartans had dropped a dual meet earlier in the week, much to the surprise of Cabalka — who had been worried only about his Cardinals.

“I really wasn't aware that we had earned a share,” Cabalka said of the conference title. “Andy Zucker surprised me shortly after we won our match with Parker and West. 

“I guess we've been so busy trying to get better that none of the guys were either aware or didn't want to think about it until after our last match.”

The Cardinals have made remarkable strides throughout the spring — and gave their best performance of the season in their final triangular.

Senior Colin Butler tied for medalist honors with a 2-over-par, 74. Butler shot a 3-under-par 33 on the back nine, recording three birdies and six pars.

On No. 18, Middleton was still in a dogfight with Parker for first place. But Butler calmly drained a 35-foot birdie putt to help give the Cardinals the victory.

“Colin Butler's round was one to remember,” Cabalka said. “What a clutch performance.”

Andy Zucker continued his late-season surge with a 76. Zucker missed last summer with a wrist injury and started this season slow. But Zucker has rounded back into form and been one of the area’s top players the past month.

Ross Johnson carded a 79 and Brett Wipfli shot an 81. That was good for a narrow win over the Vikings, who also played sensational golf.

“Parker played extremely well all day,” Cabalka said. “But our guys hung in there and came through when it really mattered.”

The win was extremely rewarding for a Middleton team that was in the midst of a rebuilding year. The Cardinals lost all five players from last year’s team that finished second at state.

Instead, Middleton struggled in the early going, began finding its groove by midseason, and has gotten red hot down the stretch. In the last two weeks, Middleton posted huge two-stroke wins over Verona and Janesville Parker, and a four-shot win over Sun Prairie that helped it claim a share of the league title.

“It has been a rebuilding year,” Cabalka insisted. “Our season has been filled with quite a few ups and downs. The guys and coaching staff have worked very hard to keep improving every day. 

“Our No. 1 through 4 players have continued to improve, but they also have to play with more confidence and believe in themselves. Andy Zucker has played very well the last couple weeks after a slow start to his season. Colin, Brett and Ross have all had some good rounds, but for us to be successful in the coming weeks they are all going to have to play well collectively.”

Middleton also finished in a tie for seventh place at the 17-team Lake Country Charity Invitational held at Western Lakes Golf Club last Saturday. Host Hartland Arrowhead won the tournament with a 298, while the Cardinals shot a 325.

Zucker shot a 77 to lead the Cardinals, while Butler carded a 79. Wipfli notched an 80 and Johnson shot an 89.

Middleton also finished fourth at the 12-team Spartan Invitational held at Blackhawk Country Club Monday.

Lodi won the tournament with a 314, while Waunakee (316), Verona (323), Middleton (330) and Madison Memorial (331) rounded out the top-five.

Zucker finished third overall with a 3-over-par 75, while Butler tied for ninth with an 80.

“Our consistency and finding a No. 5 player that can contribute remains our largest hurdle,” Cabalka said. “We have not found a fifth player who has proven that he has won that spot. We have yet to count our No. 5 player in a match all season.”

Middleton now heads to the Big Eight Conference meet Thursday at Evansville Golf Club beginning at 8:30 a.m. It figures to be one of the most hotly-contested conference tournaments in recent memory, but Cabalka’s Cardinals appear ready.

“Which team handles the pressure and keeps the ball in play the best should end up winning,” Cabalka said. “Evansville is a challenging and fair golf course. Good intelligent judgment and playing with confidence will be a key factor in winning.”

 

May 12

Madison West Triangular

Team scores: Middleton 310, Janesville Parker 312, Madison West 324.

Medalist: Cranley, MW, and Butler, M, 74.

Middleton: Butler 74, Zucker 76, Johnson 79, Wipfli 81. Janesville Parker: Henry 77, Zimmerman 78, Orley 78, Sitter 79. Madison West: Cranley 74, Kuenzi 75, Huie 87, Frey 88. At Odana Hills GC, par 72.

 

May 13

Lake Country Charity Invitational

Division 1 team scores: Hartland Arrowhead 298, Wauwatosa 303, Milwaukee Marquette 305, Mequon Homestead 320, Menomonee Falls 324, Sussex Hamilton 325, Middleton 325, Muskego 326, Lake Geneva Badger 333, Germantown 333, Mukwonago 333, Neenah 336, Oconomowoc 336, Waukesha South 354, Hartford 355, Kenosha Tremper 372.

Top individuals: 1, Blair, MM, 70; 2, Michel, L, 71; 3 (tie), Knapek, HA; Hunt, HA; Garski, Wta; Walzer, L; Arndt, ME, and Callahan, AX, 72; 9, Wikel, Mus, 73; 10 (tie), Pasher, MH; Monty, Wta; Johnson, G; Katula, Wta, and Gilmore, ME, 74. 15 (tie), Morse, Muk, and Gilles, ME, 75; 17 (tie), Morway, MH; Ott, MM; Reiser, HA; Ploch, O; Darling, GBND, and Halama, GBND, 76. At Western Lakes GC, par 72.

 

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