KOHLER — Chris Zwettler had just spent the better part of six hours Monday watching his Edgewood (Madison) boys golf team put itself in position to make WIAA history after taking a five-stroke lead over Xavier (Appleton) during the first round of the Division 2 state championship when the Crusaders interim coach was posed this question:
Will he be the one offering the words of wisdom to a group of golfers who will spend their Tuesday trying to make Edgewood the first school in WIAA history to win five consecutive state boys golf championships? Or will juniors Alex Weiss and Al Deang, who have experience in sealing deals after helping the Crusaders lock down their most recent state championship team a year ago, be the ones doing all the talking?
"I'm basically more of a caretaker," said Zwettler, who will retire as a teacher and athletic director this month after 33 years at the school. "I said to them 'I think we had a good round today, but I think we should be a little angry and hungry because we left a good six or seven shots out on the last couple holes.'
"But everybody could probably say that, too."
Indeed, Zwettler wasn't the coach going to sleep with his team's putters in hopes of a better day on the greens Tuesday than they enjoyed Monday.
That would've been Corey Feller. The Xavier coach took to Twitter late Monday night to say that as good as his Hawks' comeback appeared in the opening round — they trailed by 11 at the turn only to shoot a 149 on the front nine to finish with a 316 — it could have been much better.
Edgewood, however, did have a strong argument that as good as Monday's effort was — its 311 came within a shot of matching its 18-hole state tournament scoring average during its current four-year reign — it could have been better.
Weiss birdied three of his first five holes on the front nine after making the turn only to bogey two holes in a row en route to a team-best 74 that left him in a share of third place, two strokes behind leader Winston Knobloch of Winneconne. Deang, who started his round with a double-bogey and an eagle, played his next 11 holes in even par before bogeying four of his final five to shoot 76. Zeke Boos, a small-school state runner-up in Montana last spring as a sophomore before transferring to Edgewood, began and ended his round with double-bogeys (and had one more in between), but otherwise played better than his 81 would reflect.
And then there was No. 4 golfer Finn Jaeger, a junior who shot 80 in his state debut. It was his best round of this WIAA postseason and went a long way in Edgewood being able to take a lead into the final day of competition Tuesday for the fifth consecutive state tournament.
"It's so big for this team," Weiss said of Jaeger. "We knew coming in that he was capable of putting up a number like that. We were waiting all year long for him to do that. For it to come together (Monday) like that, it's just awesome for the team."
Individually, an awesome finish from Knobloch (72) helped the Winneconne junior move one stroke clear of Maple Northwestern's Trent Meyer, a UW-Green Bay recruit and last year's state runner-up. Knobloch was 2-over after a bogey 11 holes into his round at No. 2 before playing his final seven holes in 2-under — back-to-back birdies at the par-4 sixth and par-5 seventh fueled that surge — to grab the lead with 18 holes to go.
"I missed a short birdie putt on No. 1, but I kept grinding and I got a couple to drop for me," said Knobloch, who finished second to Berlin's Tyler Johnson at the regional and lost a playoff to Wittenberg-Birnamwood's Calvin Scheuer for medalist honors at the sectional. "It was my first time (at state) and I was just looking to come out here and have fun and play some good golf."