Future is bright for MHS golfers

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Carson Frisch and Middleton's golfers tied for sixth at state. The Cardinals bring back four members from this year's team next spring and will be one of the state favorites./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

VERONA — In many ways, this year’s WIAA Division 1 boys state golf tournament was about the present — and the future — for Middleton’s boys’ golf team.

The Cardinals were the youngest of the 16 teams at state, featuring three sophomores, one freshman and a senior. Middleton’s four underclassmen were all making their first-ever trips to state.

So despite a sixth place finish at the 36-hole event held Monday and Tuesday at University Ridge, Middleton left this brilliant course full of hope.

Sure, the Cardinals were hoping for a better overall finish. But with 80% of its lineup expected back — and several young and promising players in the program — this might have been just the beginning for Middleton.

“I think we got a lot of experience from this tournament,” said sophomore Carson Frisch, who plays No. 2 in the Middleton lineup. “That will definitely help going into next year and helping us handle big pressure situations.”

Fellow sophomore Kip Sullivan agreed.

“It was a heck of an experience, heck of an experience,” Sullivan said. “I had a blast, even though I didn’t play so well (Tuesday). It was really cool to see all the people on the different holes, clapping.

“We’re going to take this experience and we’re going to learn from it, obviously. It was great to get here and to play University Ridge. This is just huge, just getting here and playing.”

Marquette won its second team title in three years, shooting 11-over par, 299 each day and finishing at 598. Defending champion Arrowhead was second at 606.

Middleton was tied with Arrowhead for third place after day one at 306, seven shots behind Marquette. But after a strong start in Tuesday’s final round, the Cardinals struggled, shot a 318-team score, and tied for sixth with Brookfield Central at 624.

“These kids learned a tremendous amount about themselves in the last two days and what they’re capable of and what they have to work on to come back here and get better,” Middleton coach Tom Cabalka said. “This was a great learning experience for them. They learned a lot over the last couple of weeks with the pressure and the people watching. And I think they just got better and better.”

Middleton’s first round couldn’t have gone a whole lot better.

The Cardinals began play on the back nine, and freshman No. 5 golfer Jacob Beckman fired a 1-under-par 35 on his first nine. Beckman finished his day at 2-over, 74 and was tied for seventh individually.

Sullivan had a wild round with five birdies, six bogeys and a double and carded a 75. Senior Andy Zucker was steady on his way to a 77, and Frisch shot an 80 as the Cardinals stayed within shouting distance of the leaders.

Middleton set a pre-tournament goal of playing in the final group Tuesday, which includes the top-four teams from Monday’s opening round. Not only did the Cardinals achieve that, it gave them the chance to play with Arrowhead and Marquette — the two favorites and the last two team champions.

“I think they were excited about the possibilities of where we put ourselves (Monday),” Cabalka said. “I think that their goal was to be in the final grouping and they obtained that goal.”

Middleton appeared poised to challenge for some new goals, as well, Tuesday. When the Hilltoppers and Warhawks struggled early — and Middleton started strong — the Cardinals passed Arrowhead for second place and were sitting just two shots behind Marquette for the lead.

Eventually, though, Marquette’s star-studded lineup found its groove. Mighty Arrowhead — led by sophomore Piercen Hunt, who won his second straight individual championship — put together a stellar round.

And Middleton fell back to the pack.

“We started pretty decent,” Sullivan said. “We just didn’t finish. Simple as that, really.”

Frisch was extremely steady and carded a team-best 77. And his 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole helped Middleton move into sixth place in the team standings.

Kriewaldt and Sullivan both shot 80, while Beckman carded an 81.

Afterwards, the Cardinals all talked about the shots they left on this picturesque course. But they also realized those shots seem certain to pay long-term dividends.

“I think if we are looking at the future, it’s bright,” Kriewaldt said. “Obviously we’re going to be very experienced and still kind of young team next year.”

Middleton will clearly be one of the state favorites a year from now. But the Cardinals know they’ll have to continue trending upward to eventually pass powers such as Marquette and Arrowhead.

Frisch and Kriewaldt improved their averages by more than five strokes each in 2018 and seemingly have limitless potential. Beckman was a terrific surprise in his first season with the program. And Kriewaldt “came from nowhere” according to Cabalka and has the makings of a future standout.

That fabulous foursome will lead a team that should come into 2019 as one of the frontrunners to capture a state championship.

“I definitely welcome that,” Frisch said. “If we all just go out and play our game like I know we can, there should be no one stopping us.”

Kriewaldt agreed.

“I think that will be cool,” Kriewaldt said. “But I think the hardest thing about that is living up to the standards people set for us. I think we want to set our own standards for next year and have those standards be pretty high.”

Before exiting University Ridge, the loquacious Sullivan took one look back — reflecting on the Cardinals’ memorable 2018 campaign, and thinking about the promise of an even brighter future.

“This year was unbelievable,” Sullivan said. “This is not what I was expecting. This was just an unbelievable season, one that I will never forget. Super fun.

“But now, we want to be the team to beat. That’s the way we look at it.”

Soon, the rest of the state might, too.

 

WIAA DIVISION 1 STATE TOURNAMENT

At University Ridge GC, par 72

Team scores: Milwaukee Marquette 299-299—598; Hartland Arrowhead 306-300—606; Eau Claire Memorial 318-295—613; Fond du Lac 305-314—619; Kaukauna 314-309—623; Middleton 306-318—624; Brookfield Central 315-309—624; Kettle Moraine 307-318—625; Sheboygan North 311-314—625; Janesville Parker 324-317—641; Verona 324-323—647; Lake Geneva Badger 332-317—649; Franklin 334-318—652; Green Bay Notre Dame 322-331—653; River Falls 324-332—656; Westosha Central 346-342—688.

Top 12 individuals: 1, x-Hunt, Arrowhead, 69-73—142; Garski, Wauwatosa East/West, 71-71—142; 3 (tie), Hlinak, Kaukauna, 76-69—145; Bernhardt, Eau Claire Memorial, 72-73—145; 5, Dettmering, Merrill, 70-76—146; Blair, Milwaukee Marquette, 76-71—147; 7 (tie), Wisdom, Lake Geneva Badger, 75-73—148; Lutze, Milwaukee Marquette, 77-71—148; 9 (tie), Raab, Arrowhead, 76-73—149; Cedergren, Bay Port, 78-71—149; 11 (tie), Brown, Union Grove, 77-73—150; Schroeckenthaler, Monona Grove, 78-72—150.

x — Won on second playoff hole

Middleton results: Sullivan 75-80—155; Beckman 74-81—155; Frisch 80-77—157; Zucker 77-85—162; Kriewaldt 83-80—163. 

 

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