Middleton golfers fall short of state

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Charlie Jambor and Middleton's boys golf team fell short of state Tuesday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Twenty four hours before their biggest meet of the season, Middleton boys golf coach Tom Cabalka knew just what to expect.

“It’s going to be incredibly close,” Cabalka said of Tuesday’s WIAA Division 1 Waunakee Sectional. “There are four or five outstanding teams. It will probably come down to a shot or two.”

Cabalka was spot on.

Unfortunately, his Cardinals were on the wrong side of that score.

Host Waunakee won the eight-team sectional held at The Meadows of Six Mile with a 310, while Middleton and Holmen tied for second at 317. Only the top two teams go to state, so the Cardinals and Vikings headed to a playoff hole.

When there’s a playoff in high school golf, all 10 players from the two teams play the same hole at once — and count the four best scores per side. Middleton and Holmen returned to No. 1, where the Vikings then edged the Cardinals, 17-18, in the playoff.

“It was a tough loss,” Cabalka said. “The kids took it hard. You’re going to take it hard when you get to this time of the year.

“We didn’t play our best. We struggled, then we played well. We struggled, then we played well. But overall, we just needed to play better.”

Middleton junior Dain Johnson shot a 3-over-par 75 and qualified for state as an individual. The state tournament will be held Monday and Tuesday at Blackwolf Run in Kohler.

Johnson and freshman Sam Forslund (76) both had solid days, but the rest of the Cardinals struggled. Middleton counted 83s from senior James Baker and freshman Reis Von Ruden, and tossed an 84 from Charlie Jambor, who plays No. 2 in the lineup.

“You have to have three good scores and one that’s at least mediocre to get through to sectionals,” Cabalka said. “We had just two good scores and three I wouldn’t even call mediocre. We struggled more than I anticipated.”

Holmen held a commanding lead at the turn after firing a 150 on the front nine. Madison Memorial was in second at 159, while Middleton and Waunakee were tied for third at 160.

Wauankee — which was playing in the early wave of golfers — got red hot on the back nine and pulled away from the field by posting a terrific team score of 310.

Holmen — which was playing with Middleton and Madison Memorial — began to fade. So down the stretch, the Cardinals, Vikings and Spartans were left battling for one spot.

Middleton and Memorial led Holmen by one shot heading to No. 18. There, Johnson made a par, Holmen’s Luke Taebel birdied and the Spartans bogeyed which sent the Cardinals and Vikings to a playoff.

A large crowd flocked to the 298-yard, par-4 first hole to watch one of the more unique events in sports — a 10-team playoff. And after all 10 players hit their drives, Middleton seemed to have a slight upper-hand.

“We had more balls in the fairway and they hit some bunkers,” Cabalka said.

But tournaments — and state berths — are won from 150 yards and in, and Middleton had a tough time closing. Jambor and Von Ruden made pars, but the other three Cardinals bogeyed. Holmen, meanwhile, made three pars and a bogey to advance.

“We didn't execute like we could,” Cabalka said. “We fought and battled back at times throughout the day.

“But we just had too many big numbers on the card. We talk about eliminating doubles and we just didn’t do a good enough job of that.”

Despite the setback, Cabalka knows brighter days await.

Middleton played a pair of freshman at sectionals, and four of the Cardinals’ top five golfers will return in 2024. In addition, there’s several JV players that were knocking on the varsity door this year, meaning next season could be a big one for Middleton.

“We’ll bring back a nice group,” Cabalka said. “And I’m sure there’s a lot of kids that will be fighting for varsity spots that will work hard this summer.

“But (Tuesday) was still tough. There was a lot more they wanted to accomplish. Hopefully this makes them better.”


May 30

WIAA Division 1 Waunakee Sectional

At The Meadows of Six Mile

Team scores: Waunakee 310, Holmen 317, Middleton 317, Madison Memorial 318, Madison West 320, Onalaska 322, Wisconsin Rapids 332, Tomah 350.

Top individuals: 1. Luke Taebel, Holmen, 70; 2. KC Nickel, Waunakee, 72; 3. Colin Comeau, Onalaska, 73; 4. Finn Jackson, Madison West 74; 5. Dain Johnson, Middleton 75.

Middleton scores: Johnson 75, Sammy Forslund 76, Reis Von Ruden 83, James Baker 83.




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