Jo Baranczyk, Bay Port

Jo Baranczyk, Bay Port 

Jo Baranczyk is a far bigger person than I would have been, had I won my conference, regional, sectional and state championships — the latter for the second year in a row with a stunning comeback on the final day of the golf season — only to be judged by a group of adults armed with an impossible formula and Swiss-cheese logic that I'm a second-team all-state selection.

Yet, the statement that resonated throughout Wisconsin Monday after a Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin committee judged the two-time WIAA Division 1 state champion not fit for a spot on the seven-player first team stirred up all kinds of emotions among those, like me, who just didn't get it.

Baranczyk's selection should have been one of the biggest gimmes in the history of girls golf. She was the only golfer in Wisconsin to win conference, regional, sectional and state championships — did I mention the latter with the only sub-par round by any of the 117 golfers at University Ridge over the two-day event — and, yet, there she stood Monday in a long line of girls golf observers wondering what she had done to put herself on the wrong side of golf coaches making this strange decision.

As it turned out, Baranczyk didn't do enough early in her junior season to complement the unmatched good she did down the stretch. I'll try to explain later, but — spoiler alert — you won't understand (or like) the formula in place that allows the inexplicable omission of the state's undisputed No. 1 golfer, thereby robbing the entire process of much of its credibility.

But I was curious what the one golfer for whom most of the state showed great concern and compassion Monday thought of a process in which seven golfers who combined to finish 41 strokes behind her at the state tournament wound up ahead of her in the state selection. What you should know is that Baranczyk considers them to be her friends first and rivals a distant second.

"All the girls on first team are very deserving," Baranczyk replied via text. "I couldn’t name any one of them that wouldn’t deserve it. So even though I am disappointed, hopefully I can come to realize that this is just one of those tough things in life. I know I will come out stronger next season and bring my scoring down to where it has been and to where I know it will be again."

After all, Baranczyk didn't need a panel of coaches to remind her what she already knew: That she wasn't the dominating golfer during July, August and early September that she was before and after that frustrating stretch.

When I talked to her in late June, after she had swept the Lake Arrowhead Invitational and Wisconsin PGA Junior Championship (two "majors" on the junior golf calendar in Wisconsin), it was hard to imagine anything short of her continuing her magic-carpet ride through the rest of the golden weeks of her college recruiting process right into a final decision before Christmas. 

Unfortunately for Baranczyk, those plans went haywire by the time she got to the National PGA Junior Championship and began a late-summer slump that would continue through the U.S. Girls Junior Championship at SentryWorld in Stevens Point and into the start of her junior season at Bay Port High School in mid-August. Ultimately, that's where Baranczyk and the bizarre formula used to choose the all-state teams first came in conflict with each other.

To her credit, Baranczyk admitted she saw it coming.

"I am aware of the process and the statistics involved, and I can’t argue with the numbers," Baranczyk wrote in her text to me. "I’m not sure how much the other factors are looked at, for instance, winning conference, tying for first at regionals and sectionals, and then winning state. It seems that those do not count as much as I had hoped nor as much as I think they should."

Which brings us to the point in this saga where I'm bound to lose some of you. I'd like to be the one to make sense of the "standardized scoring calculation" used as the No. 1 means of leveling the playing field among the 780 girls who played varsity golf in Wisconsin this fall, but —  even after a 39-minute telephone conversation Monday with Green Bay Notre Dame coach Brian Bobinski, the non-voting chair of the all-state committee — I'm at a loss to explain other than to do what he did and direct you to this link on the GCAOW Website.

If you click on that link, you will notice there are also nine other factors to be considered by the committee that were seemingly not deployed during this selection process, most notably state tournament finish, placement at regionals and sectionals and conference placement. "Consistency of play throughout the season" seems to be the one that hurt Baranczyk, but — even at her worst — Baranczyk only had two finishes outside the top 10 (a T17 at the Franklin Invitational to start the regular season and a T15 at the Green Bay Notre Dame Invitational the week before she started running the tables) among her 16 starts in Wisconsin (Bay Port played one event in Arizona).

Bobinski prefaced our conversation by saying that, as chair of the committee, he could not speak to the specifics of the Baranczyk omission with anyone other than her coach. Jeff Johnsen and I traded emails and, understandably, the Pirates coach was "not impressed" with Bobinski's explanation.

"The committee places a large part on season average instead of the biggest tournaments at the biggest times of the year," Johnsen wrote after speaking with Bobinski. "I said we should just play easy tourneys next year to get our averages lower instead of the top competition we played this year."

Indeed, that would appear to be one approach to avoiding a wrong in the future now that this one can't be righted. Then again, if there were any easy answers to this — apparently having five spots determined largely by math majors and two reserved for the divisional state champions isn't on the table — we'd have arrived at that point by now.

Instead, during my conversation with Bobinski, I strongly disagreed with his characterization that the current process is "pretty straight forward." But I believe at one point we did agree my understanding to be correct, that no event on a golfer's schedule — not even the WIAA state tournament — is regarded any more or any less than any other in the committee's matrix.

That's probably where, in the minds of many, the all-state train went flying off the tracks this year.

As someone once told me, if it takes 30 minutes to explain the process and another 30 to defend it, then we've wasted an hour that could've been spent fixing it. And that appears to be the wishes of the court of public opinion.

I heard from an assortment of parents, coaches and others via Twitter, text, email and Facebook Messenger, some surprised, some enraged and others resigned to the fact that adult coaches on the committee — most of them educators, no less — would leave their process dangling out there to be beaten like a piñata. You can imagine what Bobinski's phone looked like.

Bobinski explained that seats on the all-state committee are filled by those serving on the executive committee. According to the GCAOW website, that 10-person committee is comprised of five girls coaches, two current boys coaches, one former boys coach, one college coach (a former boys coach) and one coach who is both the varsity boys and girls coach at his school.

While saying there have been "multiple new members" added to the all-state committee in the last two years, Bobinski confirmed that there are no term limits on those committee positions (only the leadership posts) and that the GCAOW executive committee is "always looking for new members."  

New perspective is never a bad thing and, as we sign our scorecard on this matter, let me step outside the box and commend someone: Brookfield Central sophomore Sarah Balding, the 2019 GCAOW girls player of the year.

When I quizzed her on the controversy the coaches stirred up, her response served as a great reminder about what's important to those playing the game.

"I think that, from my perspective at least, a lot of girls don’t really know exactly what goes into the decision for the rankings," Balding wrote via email in an interview for the story highlighting those honored. "That being said, it is known that it takes into account our seasons as a whole. There are tons of amazing golfers out there. Many of them were mentioned on the rankings by the Golf Coaches Association. But at the end of the day, where we are ranked does not define who we are as a golfer or a person.

"There is so much more to these girls than their scores this season and I just enjoy meeting them all and having fun with them on the course."

HS Girls Golf: 2019 Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin All-State Teams

Name School
First team
Sarah Balding Brookfield Central
Elise Hoven Cedarburg
Rachel Kauflin Wauwatosa East/West
Sami Krutz Brookfield Central
Katherine Meier Middleton
Holly Murphy Badger/Williams Bay
Grace Welch Edgewood of the Sacred Heart
Second team
Jo Baranczyk Bay Port
Meredith Boos Catholic Memorial
Sadie Kelley Pulaski
Myranda Kotlowski Stoughton
Ava Salay Prescott
Glenna Sanderson Middleton
Grace Suter Oconomowoc
Third team
Ellie Behring Oak Creek
Avery Dudra Bay Port
Ellie Frisch Middleton
Paige Hillman Hudson
Caylie Kotlowski Stoughton
Julia Schilling Kettle Moraine
Mallory Swartz Franklin
Honorable mention Division 1
Jenna Anderson Kettle Moraine
Anna Cesarz Divine Savior Holy Angels
Milanne Dahmen Middleton
Hannah Dunk Milton
Grace Durkin Notre Dame de la Baie Academy
Madeline Fiebig Kettle Moraine
Sydney Grimm Waunakee
Jolie Guyette De Pere
Makenzie Hodson Middleton
Elizabeth Kaiser Arrowhead
Amanda Karvala New Berlin
Kallie Lux Janesville Craig
Carly Moon Baraboo
Angelina Myhr Madison La Follette
Brin Neumann Tomah
Taylor Peper Sheboygan North/South
Lauren Peterson Arrowhead
Sophie Pokela Tomah
A.J. Powell Appleton North
Norah Roberts Union Grove
CJ Romero Brookfield Central
Rylie Severson Ashwaubenon
Reagan Stuke Kettle Moraine
Kyley Wipper Brookefield Central
Ava Wittstock Sheboygan North/South
Honorable mention Division 2
Callie Berg Freedom
Abby DeMoe Colfax
Alexis Fredericks Prescott
Lauren Haen Xavier
Rylee Haines Arcadia/Independence
Caitlyn Hegenbarth Edgewood of the Sacred Heart
Ariel Heuer Osseo Fairchild/Fall Creek
Grace Jaeger Edgewood of the Sacred Heart
Anaka Leske Edgewood of the Sacred Heart
Haley Myers Somerset
Kiernan Smith Northwestern
Sally Vangsness St. Croix Central

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