D1 - Abby Cavaiani.JPG

Kettle Moraine's Abby Cavaiani digs up a bit of turf as she watches her chip shot to the 18th green on Tuesday. Cavaiani finished second in Division 1 at the state tournament, two shots behind the leader.

Wisconsin.Golf photo/Jim Kelsh

There is something to be said for plying one's craft in the shadows of others.

Doubters are referred to Abby Cavaiani, the Kettle Moraine senior who spent 2016 chasing Hartland Arrowhead's Emily Lauterbach in her conference and Milton's Mia Seeman in her class. Both rivals inspired Cavaiani to put in the extra effort through the winter and make 2017 a year to remember.

The Missouri State recruit wrestled player-of-the-year honors away from Lauterbach in the talent-rich Classic 8 Conference with the score heard 'round Wisconsin (her 12-under-par 60 at Broadlands GC in North Prairie). Cavaiani out-pointed Seeman in the Wisconsin PGA Junior player-of-the-year standings, compiling a body of work worthy of also jumping the South Dakota State recruit in the updated Wisconsin.Golf rankings for the girls Class of 2018.

It needs to be stated up front that Cavaiani did not appear out of nowhere.

Her 2016 resume was solid. She had nine top-10 finishes in 10 stroke-play events on the WPGA Junior Tour, including a victory at the WPGA Junior Tour Championship where she shot a pair of 75s and closed the summer with an impressive victory over three NCAA Division I-bound golfers — Alexis Thomas of Middleton (now at North Dakota State), Ashley Kulka of Beaver Dam (now at UW-Green Bay) and Lauterbach (headed to Wisconsin in 2019). She also finished a respectable sixth at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament.

Her 2017 credentials were spectacular. Cavaiani had seven top-five finishes in the seven in-state stroke-play junior events she played, including victories at three big ones — the WPGA Junior Championship, the Morgan Stanley WPGA Junior Tour Championship and the girls-only SentryWorld Classic — before finishing second to Seeman at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament.

Of course, her signature moment came at the Classic 8 Championship.

A year ago, Lauterbach (72) edged Cavaiani (73) to earn player-of-the-year honors after the two came into the conference meet with identical scoring averages. This year, Cavaiani led Lauterbach going into the Classic 8 Championship, shot 30 on the front nine and matched it on the back to shoot what is certain to be a state-record 60 — the WIAA has never tracked such milestones so, therefore, most prep records in the state in all sports are unofficial — and outdistance Lauterbach, who made eight birdies in a round of 67.

Cavaiani also turned int a breakthrough performance at the 42nd Junior Girls PGA Championship where she shot 74-73-76-70 and finished tied for 40th. She was the lone Wisconsin golfer (North Dakota State-bound Taylor McCorkle of Oregon and Seeman were the others) to make the cut.

Suffice it to say the Class of 2018 will be remembered for making each other better.

Cavaiani is the third golfer in as many updates to hold down the No. 1 ranking. Mequon Homestead's Speedy Kent was No. 1 in the debut ranking in January of 2016 and Seeman grabbed the top spot in November of that year.

This year, Seeman and Kent, a Wofford (S.C.) recruit, were Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, while Loyola (Illinois) recruit Lorenza Martinez and Franklin's Courtney Matschke, the highest-ranked uncommitted golfer in the class, rounded out the top five.

Two UW-Green Bay recruits — Mequon Homestead's Isabelle Maleki (No. 5) and Verona's Lauren Shorter (No. 10) — bookend the second five. Also in that group are: uncommitted Erika Priebe of Fox Valley Lutheran (No. 7), Valparaiso recruit Payton Hodson of Middleton (No. 8), uncommitted Emily Balding of Brookfield Central and uncommitted Erin Ericson of Onalaska, who shared the No. 10 spot at the WIAA Division 1 state meet with Shorter and does so in the Wisconsin.Golf rankings for this year's senior class.

This class has at least 10 scholarship golfers in the class going down to No. 31 Alexa Owen of Jefferson, who is expected to sign Wednesday with NCAA Division II St. Cloud (Minn.) State. With 20 of the top 30 golfers yet to announce their college plans, this class stands to make as big an impact the next four years as it did the four to get to this point.

Girls Golf: Class of 2018 state rankings (November 2017)

No. First name Last name High school College Previous
1 Abby Cavaiani Kettle Moraine Missouri State 3
2 Mia Seeman Milton South Dakota State 1
3 Speedy Kent Mequon Homestead Wofford (S.C.) 2
4 Lorenza Martinez Milwaukee Divine Savior Loyola (Illinois) 3
5 Courtney Matschke Franklin 8
6 Isabelle Maleki Mequon Homestead UW-Green Bay 5
7 Erika Priebe Fox Valley Lutheran 7
8 Payton Hodson Middleton Valparaiso 14
9 Emily Balding Brookfield Central 6
10 Erin Ericson Onalaska 9
tie Lauren Shorter Verona UW-Green Bay 16
12 Sarah Ernst Hartland Arrowhead 12
13 Gianna Gastrow Hartland Arrowhead 18
14 Sydney Steinmetz Oshkosh West 36
15 Courtney Shorter Verona 34
16 Lexi Romero Brookfield Central
17 Sydney Brandt Waukesha Catholic Memorial St. Catherine's (Minn.) 11
18 Markie Ash Waupaca 24
19 Madison Bowers Mineral Point 38
20 Skyler Phillips Hartland Arrowhead 21
21 Kate Munro Racine Prairie School 15
22 Sophia Sun Brookfield Central 37
23 Megan Koch Union Grove Minnesota State-Mankato 28
24 Emma Whitfield Brookfield Central 19
25 Brooke Knutson Westby/Viroqua NR
26 Grace Eide Osseo-Fairchild UW-Stout NR
27 Andrea Groendal New Berlin Eisenhower/West NR
28 Bree Downie Hortonville Winona (Minn.) State) 13
29 Savanna Anderson Stanley-Boyd Winona (Minn.) State) 26
30 Rebekah Gerry Eau Claire Memorial 23
31 Andi McCorkle Oregon 17
32 Alexa Owen Jefferson St. Cloud (Minn.) State NR
33 Bailee Bussan Southwestern/Cuba City NR
34 Madison Schmidt Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau 25
35 Trinidy Pate Mequon Homestead Winona (Minn.) State 35
36 Grace Pugh Franklin 31
37 Ashley Lawler Racine St. Catherine's NR
38 Jessica Massimo Kenosha Tremper NR
39 Katelyn Baribeau Rice Lake Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) 22
40 Samantha Plankey Appleton North 10
41 Alexis Hecker Oak Creek 29
42 Molly Larsen Tomah NR
43 Kaitlyn Schneider Fort Atkinson NR
44 Brooke Weber Whitefish Bay 32
45 Jackie Bianchi Union Grove NR
46 Shealyn McCoy La Crosse Aquinas NR
47 Katie Chafoulias Onalaska 30
48 Chloe Day Beloit Memorial 33
49 Holly Gunnink Milton NR
50 Jessica Barber Stevens Point NR
tie Alexis Gaillard Verona NR
HM Kya Kafar Burlington St. Francis (Ill.) NR
HM Sophie Werner Hartford UW-Whitewater NR