MHS golfers have high hopes again

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Payton Hodson and Middleton’s girls golf team have high expectations this fall, despite heavy gradiuation losses./File photo

The names and the faces have changed.

Big time.

But that’s just business as usual inside Middleton’s girls golf program.

What never changes are expectations. And those certainly won’t be altered this fall.

The Cardinals have finished in the top-three at the WIAA Division 1 state meet for four consecutive years. Now, after losing three of its top golfers — including state Co-Player of the year Alexis Thomas — Middleton could be hard-pressed to match that success level again.

But if history has taught us anything, it’s that doubting the Cardinals is a foolish endeavor. So when Middleton begins its new season Thursday at the New Glarus Invite, expect it to once again field a gifted and dangerous team.

“Our end goals will always be the same,” Middleton coach Becky Halverson said. “But it's our daily goals that will probably be a little different than in the past.”

Since the late, great Dewey Stendahl started Middleton’s program a quarter century ago, the Cardinals have been one of the state’s elite teams.

Middleton has reached the state tournament 17 times since 1997, with two state championships and 13 top-five finishes in that stretch.

Matching those lofty achievements will be a great challenge, though, as the Cardinals graduated 60% of their lineup.

Alexis Thomas, the co-Player of the Year in the state, is now playing at North Dakota State. First-team all-Big Eight golfer Morgan Miles and standout Lindsay Callahan also graduated.

“The trio of seniors last year was a close-knit group that will be missed for sure,” Halverson said. “Losing those three is going to be tough, but I have confidence that we have a group of girls looking to step right up.”

Leading the way will be senior Payton Hodson, a Valparaiso University recruit.
Hodson was a first-team all-Big Eight and an honorable-mention all-state selection last year. Hodson has also been named academic all-state two years in a row.  

Hodson’s nine-hole average in 2016 was 40.67, an improvement of 5.41 shots from 2015. Hodson also won the Cardinal Invite, as well as the Big Eight Conference tournament.  

“Payton will be looking to take on the role of our No. 1 golfer,” Halverson said. “She has played in a bunch of summer tournaments getting geared up for the season.”

Sophomore Kate Meier had a big first season, averaging 43.97 and earning second-team all-conference honors. Meier should be poised for bigger and better in her sophomore season.

“Kate Meier will be another solid player for our team this year,” Halverson said. “She has been working hard this summer and also playing in a bunch of summer tournaments. I am expecting Payton and Kate to step into those top two spots and be leaders for our team.”

After that, the race to crack the Cardinals’ five-person lineup appears wide-open.

Allison Richards was Middleton’s alternate at state the last two seasons and could move up a peg. Others such as Grace Peterson, Haley Dunn, Danielle Callahan, Makenzie Hodson, Bryn Jens and Hannah Laufenberg are returning JV players that are in the running to crack the varsity lineup.  

In addition, incoming freshman Ella D’Orazio and Glenna Sanderson could make an immediate splash.

“The rest of the spots are up for grabs between several girls,” Halverson said.

While many of the golfers will be new, Middleton is never short of talent. And that’s why the revamped Cardinals figure to be in the mix for big things once again in 2017.

“I'm expecting us to develop as we go this season,” Halverson said. “We may not be fine-tuned come August 10th, but our hope is to work hard at practice every day to get there by the end of September.”

 

GCAW Girls Golf Coaches Pre-Season Ranking

1. Arrowhead

2. Homestead     

3. Milton

4. Brookfield Central

5. Hayward  

6. Franklin  

7. Middleton

8. Eau Claire Memorial

9. Verona

10. Union Grove

Honorable Mention: Aquinas, DSHA, Kettle Moraine, Oregon, Oshkosh West, Eau Claire North, Edgewood, Cedarburg.

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