Golfers finish eighth at state

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton's Payton Hodson finished fifth at the WIAA Division 1 girls state golf meet./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

They would have liked to play better.

They would have loved to challenge for a top-five finish for a fifth straight year and end their memorable year on a high.

That didn't happen for Middleton’s girls golf team at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament held Monday and Tuesday at University Ridge. The Cardinals posted a two-day total of 700 and finished in eighth place, 70 shots behind Arrowhead, which repeated as champions.

But as Cardinals’ senior standout Payton Hodson reflected on the tournament just moments after it ended, her reaction might have surprised some.

“I’m so proud of my teammates, no matter what place we ended up in,” Hodson said. “We all just wanted to have fun and kill it in our last rounds together. No matter how it ended up, it’s a great finish to our season.”

Macro — not micro.

That’s how Hodson and many of the Cardinals chose to look at their season. While the ending wasn’t perfect, in many ways, the year was.

“At the beginning of the year, we didn’t even know if we’d make it to state,” Middleton coach Becky Halverson said. “Coming into state, we definitely had some high hopes and really hoped to be in the top-five. But we got here. There are a lot of teams that would love to be here. I just have to remind the girls of that.”

Sophomore Kate Meier agreed.

“It was a really good season overall,” Meier said. “All of us grew close to each other. It’s going to be hard to see the seniors leave, but we’ll always look back and say we had a great season.”

The Cardinals certainly did that.

Middleton won the Big Eight Conference dual meet season and the conference’s postseason tournament. The Cardinals also were regional and sectional champions and qualified for state for the 17th time in program history.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the program on a whole and the year we had,” Halverson said. “There’s a lot to be proud of.”

Middleton knew challenging Arrowhead — which won the 2016 state title by 51 shots and this year’s crown by 27 strokes over Milton — might be an impossible task. But the Cardinals thought they could compete with several of the other schools and make a run at a top-five finish.

The Cardinals shot 351 on the first day, though, and found themselves in seventh place.

“I think it was the combination of nerves and maybe a little stress,” Meier said. “But I’m very proud of the girls.”

Added Halverson: “I definitely think some of it had to do with nerves. State tournament, you’re always going to have some nerves. We just had a little more nerves because we had so many girls that have never experienced this before. And it’s hard to prepare for that.”

The weather turned nasty during Tuesday’s second round, with rains falling on golfers throughout their back nines. Middleton never could find its groove, shot 349 and slipped from seventh to eighth.

“Obviously we would have liked to play better,” Halverson said. “But the girls gave it all they have and you can’t ask for more than that. They had fun. It just wasn’t their time. I don’t know what more to say.”

Hodson finished her career in style, shooting a final round 74 and vaulting into fifth place individually at 154 overall. Hodson’s day included three birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey.

“I’m so happy,” Hodson said. “I’m really just proud of everybody. They all did great.”

Meier shot a pair of 84s, finished at 168 and tied for 23rd individually. Grace Peterson shot 181 and finished in a tie for 41st, while Makenzie Hodson shot a 96 on Tuesday.

“It was a lot of fun,” Meier said. “I was just trying to make the most of it, live in the moment.”

Hodson agreed.

“I could not be more proud or happy with our team,” Hodson said. “It was our goal the entire season to make it to state. Just great memories.”


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