Middleton golfers headed back to state

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Jacob Beckman and Middleton’s golfers advanced through sectionals Tuesday and earned a trip to next week's state meet./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

It’s the most stressful day of the golf season.

Sure, the two-day state tournament can be a nerve-wracking affair.

But sectionals — where every drive, chip and putt can determine if you live to play another round — is a far more taxing endeavor.

Middleton’s young guns — a group that included four players competing at sectionals for the first time — handled the pressure like seasoned veterans Tuesday afternoon.

The Cardinals shot a terrific 306, finished second at the Verona Sectional played at Edelweiss Country Club and earned a trip to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament. Verona won the sectional with a sizzling 296, while Waunakee was a distant third at 313.

The state tournament is Monday and Tuesday at University Ridge Golf Course. And after a one-year absence, Middleton returns to state for the fourth time in five years.

“Sectionals are certainly the most difficult day,” Middleton coach Tom Cabalka said. “It’s like a sectional final basketball game or a football semifinal.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re first or second. Getting yourself to state is the key. So this was a very impressive day for these kids. They’re a pretty happy bunch.”

With good reason.

Cardinals’ freshman Jacob Beckman — who plays at No. 5 in the lineup — was a huge reason Middleton lived to see another day. After shooting a 40 on the front, Beckman carded a 34 on the back nine. His 74 was Middleton’s top score and tied for fourth overall.

“Walking to the 10th tee, I was hot and tired,” Beckman said. “It was truly a struggle.

“But before I played golf, I was a swimmer and that’s a sport where you just keep going and going. So I just put my head down and concentrated on the next shot. I didn’t think ahead and just stayed in the moment.”

Middleton senior Andy Zucker, the only Cardinal with state experience, shot an even-par 36 on the front nine and finished at 77. Sophomore Carson Frisch was steady all day going 39-38 for a 77 of his own. And sophomore Tommy Kriewaldt shot 39 on each side and carded a 78.

“What’s so nice about our squad is we have five kids that can score well and not everybody has that,” Cabalka said. “We were steady today and Jacob had a terrific back nine to really kind of give us a boost. I’m really proud of the kids.”

Verona shot a blistering 144 on the front nine and put itself in control of the sectional.

The Cardinals shot 151 on the front and held a narrow lead over Reedsburg (154), Holmen (157) and Waunakee (158) for the final berth to state.

The back nine at Edelweiss is considered at least two to three strokes tougher than the front nine. But Beckman took his game to another level and helped propel the Cardinals back to state.

At the par-4, 10th hole, Beckman bombed a hybrid down the center of the fairway, then hit a gap wedge from 100 yards within 5-feet. Beckman then drilled the 5-foot, uphill putt to start his back nine in style.

Beckman got in a bit of trouble at the par-5, 11th hole. But on his third shot, Beckman hit a 7-iron from 120 yards to 8-feet and made that birdie putt, as well.

Then at the par-5, 15th hole, Beckman flew the green on his second shot. He chipped back within two feet, though, and made his tap-in birdie.

“I truly was able to relax and play good golf,” Beckman said. “It was such a great experience to go out there, especially my freshman year. I enjoyed it so much.

“I’m just glad to be able to play with these guys. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”

Beckman’s back nine charge, combined with steady second halves from Frisch (38), Kriewaldt (39) and Zucker (41) meant another team had to go extremely low to catch the Cardinals. When that didn’t happen, Middleton was on its way to state again.

“We didn’t worry about Verona and what they did,” Cabalka said. “If they were going to throw up a good round like they did, we had to play good golf against Reedsburg and Holmen and Waunakee and we did that.”

Now, the Cardinals will try to carry that momentum to the state tournament.

“Our kids think they can play with the best,” Cabalka said. “We’re not just going to go out there and slap the ball around.

“We’re going to keep working hard and see what we can do against the best in the state. We’re certainly in that mix. We might not compete for the No. 1 team in the state, but we’ll find out how good we can be.”

So far this year, the answer has been extremely good.

Tuesday was simply the latest example of that.

 

May 29

WIAA Division 1 Verona Sectional

Team scores: Verona 296, Middleton 306, Waunakee 313, Holmen 314, Reedsburg 317, Oregon 331, Tomah 338, Sparta 338.

Middleton scores: Jacob Beckman 40-34 — 74; Andy Zucker 36-41 — 77; Carson Frisch 39-38 — 77; Tommy Kriewaldt 39-39 — 78.

At Edelweiss, par 72.

 

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