MHS girls golfers ready for title push

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By: 
Bill Cooney/For the Times-Tribune
Middleton’s girls golf team is in the midst of a sensational season. From left are Kate Meier, Milanne Dahmen, Ellie Frisch, Glenna Sanderson, Makenzie Hodson and Amanda Beckman./Photo submitted

They’re known as much for their quirky nicknames, pre-round rituals and cuddly animal headcovers as they are for their smooth golf swings and head-turning scores.

They’re 9-0 in dual meets this season, but that’s old news because they’re 36-0 the past four seasons in that category.

And they’re poised to win a WIAA Division 1 state girls golf championship after falling just short a season ago.

Meet Middleton’s girls golf team, the top-ranked team in the state.

Individually, the Cardinals, led by seniors Kate Meier and Makenzie Hodson, are all capable of shooting in the 30s for nine holes and likely the 70s for 18 at any given time. Collectively, they’re capable of hitting the low 300s, having already posted 303 at one event this season.

“Obviously it’s our goal after finishing second at state last year,” coach Becky Halverson said of potentially taking home a state title. “They were all on the team, so they’ve seen what it’s like to finish second and they enjoyed it. But they’ve got that little extra drive in them that they want to see what it’s like to win.”

The Cardinals have 19 state appearances, including each of the past seven years. They won state titles in 2009 and 2015 – the latter coming when Meier and Hodson were in eighth grade.

Meier, a Loyola (Ill.) recruit, has high hopes for this team’s chances of claiming gold at University Ridge Golf Course in Verona.

“It would mean everything to myself and the girls,” she said. “We work very hard throughout the year. In the spring, summer, and through the fall. We’ve taken second, eighth and second (the past three seasons). I’m doing it for my friends, family and all my coaches. It would mean a lot for us.”

Aside the from low scores, the reason the Cardinals hold this opportunity is largely due to the leadership of their two seniors, Halverson said. They push and tutor junior Glenna Sanderson, sophomore Ellie Frisch, sophomore Milanne Dahmen, freshman Amanda Beckman and sophomore Karlye Kriewaldt.

Meier is known simply as “Momma Kate” to her teammates. She makes sure everyone is taken care of and feeling up to par.

“She’s so supportive on and off the course,” Hodson said. “The teammate, friend that you can go to for everything and anything. She’s a great role model for the girls. She’s able to relate to the other girls, they feel supported and acknowledged by her.”

Meier’s driver also sports a puppy dog headcover nicknamed Arnie, for the late, great Arnold Palmer. Her teammates liked it so much that they each got an animal headcover of their own — roosters, llamas, cows, and pigs are just some of the creatures among the crew.

Hodson, meanwhile, is the vocal leader on the team. She’ll give a few pep talks here and there, but her specialty is giving each teammate a ceremonial hug before they tee off in a meet. She also has implemented the 3-second rule, where she only allows herself 3 seconds of anger after a poor shot.

“It’s like they’re all sisters,” Halverson said. “They help each other out constantly.”

Make no mistake, that help includes golf fundamentals and some friendly competition as well.

Meier, who averages around 275 yards off the tee, isn’t a bad friend to ask for help. She’s carded multiple rounds of 74 this season. Her career low is a 72.

She worked hard on her game from 100 yards and in during the offseason and credited Blackhawk Country Club director of golf Derek Schnarr with helping her improve. She finished fifth individually at state last season posting 78-77.

“Driving the ball far isn’t something that’s difficult for me, but when I get close around the pin that’s where the biggest shots are manufactured so tightening that up was a big goal of mine and I definitely have made that,” Meier said.

Hodson also has carded a 74 this season. She rarely uses her driver off the tee, citing too many wayward results. Her driver remains in good hands, so to speak, hidden in her golf bag by a cow animal headcover named Bessy.

“Bessy is unique,” Hodson quipped.

As anyone can see, this group of Cardinals is a fun and tight-knit bunch. Middleton posted 334-325 at state last season to finish eight shots back of Kettle Moraine.

With Middleton averaging around 322 as a team this season, the hope is to claim the top prize.

“I think the sky is the limit with how low we can go,” Meier said. “But we are hoping to really peak in the postseason.”

 

 

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