Middleton golfers storm to second at state

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s girls golf team finished second at the WIAA Division 1 state meet. From left are Milanne Dahmen, Danielle Callahan, Glenna Sanderson, Kate Meier, Makenzie Hodson, Ellie Frisch, head coach Becky Halevson and assistant coach Tom Schmitt.

VERONA — Let’s get one thing straight.

Until further notice, the word “rebuilding” should not be used when talking about Middleton’s girls golf program.

“Maybe readjusting,” said junior standout Kate Meier.

How about reloading, restocking or replenishing?

Middleton lost three players from its 2017 team that finished eighth at state. With little experience and several questions, expectations were certainly tempered for the 2018 Cardinals.

Late Tuesday afternoon, though, Meier walked around University Ridge Golf Course clutching the WIAA Division 1 runner-up trophy like a mother holding a newborn. The Cardinals took more pictures than some weddings photographers do. And Middleton’s golfers made a human pyramid, then were welcomed back to town with a firetruck escort.

The Cardinals capped one of their most surprising and rewarding seasons in recent memory with a second-place finish at the state tournament.

Kettle Moraine won its first-ever team title with a two-day score of 651, while Middleton was second at 659. Two-time defending state champion Arrowhead was third (669), while Brookfield Central (682) and New Richmond (695) rounded out the top five.

“I knew we had a lot of underclassmen and a lot of talent,” said junior Makenzie Hodson, who joined Meier as Middleton’s only returnees this fall. “But with it being the first year at state for so many girls, I didn’t know what to expect. In my mind, I was thinking top-4 or top-5. So I’m really proud. I didn’t really see this coming.”

Hodson wasn’t the only one somewhat blown away by Middleton’s performance.

“If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that we’d be second at state, I would have told you you’re crazy,” Middleton coach Becky Halverson said. “I knew we had a lot of young talent, but we didn't have much experience. There was no way to predict this.”

Well, that’s not entirely true.

Halverson just completed her sixth season as Middleton’s head coach. And in that time, the Cardinals won a state title in 2015, have two state runner-up finishes, two third place showings and an eighth-place finish.

Since 1997, Middleton has been to state 19 times, won two state titles and been second six times. History has shown that the Cardinals simply don't rebuild — and Middleton’s 2018 team was the latest to prove exactly that.

“I had no idea what to expect,” freshman Ellie Frisch said. “I was just a freshman trying to make varsity. But I couldn’t be happier with how the year went.”

Middleton entered the state tournament ranked No. 4 in the latest Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin poll. But the Cardinals jumped over No. 2 Brookfield Central and third-ranked Arrowhead at state to capture second place.

Halverson understood just how special it was for her young and inexperienced team to make the state tournament. So she had a simple message for her team before Monday’s opening round.

“The big thing is we wanted to make it fun,” Halverson said. “We told the girls, ‘Have fun. This is where you wanted to end up.’ We didn't want to put any pressure on them and just see what happens.”

A lot of good things happened over the two-day tournament.

Meier put together two sensational rounds, firing a 6-over-par 78 on Monday, then shooting a 77 Tuesday. Meier’s two-day score of 155 was good for fifth individually.

Meier made three birdies in her opening round and played the five par-5s at even par. Meier then birdied two of her first three holes Tuesday, made just one double bogey all day and was a model of consistency throughout.

“I didn’t feel any pressure and just tried to make the most of my last two rounds,” Meier said. “I just never gave up and fought through the rough patches.”

Sophomore Glenna Sanderson continued her late-season surge by firing a 165 (82-83) and finishing 18th overall. Sanderson averaged an impressive 5.30 on the par-5s and 3.50 on the par-3s.

Frisch tied for 20th individually with a 167 (85-82). The Cardinals’ fabulous freshman capped her tournament by pitching in from 15 yards out at the par-5, second hole — the final hole of her season.

“That was so exciting,” Frisch said. “The perfect ending. We didn’t have any expectations. We just wanted to do our best and see what happened.”

And after a tough opening round of 89, Hodson rebounded with an 83 Tuesday and finished in a tie for 34th place individually.

Middleton shot an opening round 334, which was good for second place, but was also 16 shots behind Kettle Moraine. The Cardinals then fired a 325 on Tuesday, which was their season-low and the low round of the day by seven shots.

“This is pretty awesome,” Meier said. “We worked so hard, and even though people thought we were rebuilding, it turned out we weren’t”

Hodson agreed.

“This means a lot,” Hodson said. “We all worked so hard to get this far. At the beginning of the season, we weren’t sure what we had. But we made it here and played really good.”

No one will use the word rebuild around Middleton next season.

The Cardinals return four of their top five golfers and have several gifted youngsters waiting to make their mark.

Kettle Moraine and Brookfield Central will also bring back the majority of their stellar teams. But Middleton will undoubtedly be among the favorites to capture gold in 2019.

“If everyone picks up a few strokes, we’ll have a chance,” Hodson said.

Halverson agreed.

“I’m already looking forward to next year,” Halverson said. “They’ve been a great group of girls. There hasn’t been any drama and they’ve just been a joy to be around every day. It was just a really, really fun year.”

 

WIAA Division 1 state meet

Team scores: Kettle Moraine 651 (318-333), Middleton 659 (334-325), Arrowhead 669 (337-332), Brookfield Central 682 (348-334), New Richmond 695 (352-343), Waunakee 699 (352-347), Kaukauna 701 (352-349), Milton 702 (360-342), Bay Port 726 (356-370), Onalaska 732 (375-357), Badger 735 (368-367), Cedarburg 739 (388-351).

Midddleton scores: Kate Meier 155 (78-77), Glenna Sanderson 165 (82-83), Ellie Frisch 167 (85-82), Makenzie Hodson 172 (89-83), Damielle Callahan 191 (96-95).

 

 

 

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