Middleton golfers win state title

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Rob Reischel
Middleton’s girls golf team celebrates after winning the WIAA Division 1 state championship Tuesday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

MADISON — The goal was carved out 365 days earlier.

Middleton’s girls golf team had just finished second at the 2018 WIAA Division 1 state tournament. And as the Cardinals’ had dinner that night at Mid Town Pub in Middleton, they immediately outlined their objective for 2019.

“It was really at that moment that we said the goal was to win a state title this year,” said Cardinals senior captain Kate Meier. “We looked at the scores and that we were bringing back four girls and we knew winning state was realistic.”

It sure was.

Twelve months later, on a cold and windy Tuesday afternoon at University Ridge Golf Course, Middleton’s dreams become reality. The Cardinals compiled the best score during each round of the two-day tournament and captured the third state title in school history. 

Middleton fired a 651, good for a 13-shot victory over runner-up Brookfield Central. Kettle Moraine, the 2018 champion, finished third at 665, while Hartland Arrowhead was fourth at 685.

“It means so much to us, because last year we were real underdogs and we pulled off second place,” Cardinals sophomore Ellie Frisch said. “So this year we came in wanting to win state the whole season. And we all just wanted to come out here and have a good time, and winning certainly helps that.”

Middleton head coach Becky Halverson, who also guided the Cardinals to the 2015 state title, agreed with Frisch.

“We left here last year after finishing second saying, ‘we want first next year.’ And they were completely determined,” Halverson said. “All season long, they just worked harder and harder every day. I didn’t have to say anything and they wanted it just as much as I did.”

Middleton, a slight underdog to Brookfield Central, was the most consistent team throughout the tournament.

Meier, the Cardinals’ unquestioned leader, finished seventh individually with a 154. Junior Glenna Sanderson, who has battled bursitis in her feet for nearly two years, finished ninth overall with a 156 that included a sensational, second-day 77.

Frisch shot a final round 79 and finished in a tie for 18th place at 166. Middleton also counted a first-day 88 from senior Makenzie Hodson and a second round 87 from sophomore Milanne Dahmen.

Middleton led the field with 17 birdies, well ahead of runners-up Brookfield Central and Bay Port (11). The Cardinals also averaged a tournament-low 5.48 on the par-5 holes and 4.88 on par-4s.

“I’m so proud of the team,” said Meier, a Loyola (Ill.) recruit. “This has just been the ultimate goal, and for us, this is just a testament to all of our hard work and dedication, coming together and accomplishing what we worked so hard for.”

Middleton’s first two state championships — in 2009 under Jeff Kenas and in 2015 — both came by just one shot. And it appeared this year’s title race would be just as close.

The Cardinals shot an opening-round 330 Monday and led surprising Hartland Arrowhead by one stroke. Kettle Moraine (333) and Brookfield Central (337) were dangerously close, too, and the four teams were all paired together for Tuesday’s final round.

Meier gave Middleton a one-shot lead after the opening round when she drained a 6-foot birdie putt on her final hole. She also finished the first round with a terrific 76 that left her tied for fourth place individually.

The Cardinals also counted a 79 from Sanderson, an 87 from Frisch and an 88 from Hodson.

“It certainly wasn’t one of our better scores, but I wasn’t too worried about anything,” Sanderson said. “We just wanted to regroup. It wasn’t our best day and we all knew we could come out and do better, which we did.”

They sure did.

Sanderson played the front nine at even-par, 36 and went on to shoot a magnificent 77. Sanderson made a 5-foot birdie putt at No. 9, birdied the par-3 12th and finished her round with just one double bogey.

“It’s an awesome feeling, no doubt about it,” Sanderson said. “It feels great.”

Especially because Sanderson hasn’t felt great since her freshman year. That’s when her feet began to hurt, and doctors have tried everything from cortisone shots to rest without much success.

Sanderson sat out the Big Eight Conference meet and regionals, but returned for both sectionals and state. Good thing, too, because she gave Middleton quite a lift.

“She was in a lot of pain,” Halverson said of Sanderson. “She was hitting the ball well. She didn’t think she was at times, but for as much pain as she was in, to just power through it and focus was amazing.”

Sanderson said while she needed the late-season rest, missing the state tournament was never an option.

“There was no way I was missing this,” Sanderson said. “It hurts a lot, but it’s manageable. I wanted to be here, I wanted to play.”

Meier was about as steady as it gets over the two days. After her team-best 76 on Monday, Meier carded a pair of 39s on her way to a second round 78.

“She’s our leader. She’s my rock, 100%,” Halverson said of Meier. “She’s just amazing. I can’t even put it into words. We’re going to miss her so much. She took care of everyone on the team. She’s really an inspiration to everyone.”

Frisch had a terrific second round in which she made three birdies, six bogeys and a pair of doubles. Frisch hit a beautiful gap wedge to 6-feet at No. 8 and sank the birdie putt, then she reached par-5s at No. 11 and 16 in two shots and two putted both holes for birdies.

“I came into today and just knew I was going to do better,” Frisch said. “I just knew (an 87) wasn’t going to happen again. And all of the girls, we’ve all been there for each other and that really helped out.”

Dahmen, who had a 10 at No. 1 and a 12 at No. 11 Monday, rebounded in a big way on Tuesday. For the most part, Dahmen stayed out of trouble, notched a pair of birdies and fired an 87 from the No. 5 spot that the Cardinals kept.

“She impressed me a lot coming back from (Monday),” Halverson said. “She never gave up. She’s been huge for us this season and she came back today and conquered those holes.”

It also didn’t take long for Middleton to conquer the field.

The Cardinals played the first three holes in 5-over par, while Kettle Moraine and Arrowhead were both 10-over and Brookfield Central was plus-11. 

“None of us out there knew that we had gained some ground,” Frisch said. “There are no leaderboards, and we don’t really want to know either because if you’re ahead, that can go to your head. So I don’t want to know what’s going on out there.”

Middleton finished the front nine with a 159, while Brookfield Central shot 164, Kettle Moraine had a 169 and Arrowhead posted a 171. That gave the Cardinals a 12-shot lead over second-place Central at the turn, and Middleton’s lead stayed in that range throughout the second nine.

“I never saw us as underdogs,” Meier said. “I knew we were all capable of going low.”

The Cardinals did just that.

And today, their year-long dreams of a state title are a reality.

“It means so much,” Halverson said. “It was an incredible group of girls and they really earned this. They deserve this so much.”


Oct. 14-15

WIAA Division 1 state championship

At University Ridge, par 72

Team scores: Middleton 330-321 — 651; Brookfield Central 337-327 — 664; Kettle Moraine 333-332 — 665; Hartland Arrowhead 331-354 — 685; Waunakee 357-345 — 702; Bay Port 355-352 — 707; Tomah 369-339 — 708; Stevens Point 362-360 — 722; Cedarburg 373-352 — 725; Union Grove 368-366 — 734; Sheboygan North/South 367-370 — 737; Green Bay Preble co-op 388-397 — 785.

Middleton scores (with individual finish): 7, Kate Meier 76-78 — 154; 9, Glenna Sanderson 79-77 — 156; 18, Ellie Frisch 87-79 — 166; 39, Makenzie Hodson 88-90 — 178; 44, Milanne Dahmen 95-87 — 182. 




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