2018 WIAA D2 | Solomon Zarling, Kettle Moraine Lutheran (with Matt Wagner, Marinette)

Kettle Moraine's Solomon Zarling, left, and Marinette's Matt Wagner 

Looking back

2018 conference champion

Waupaca shot 344 and won the North Eastern Conference boys golf championship by three strokes over Marinette. The Comets and Luxemburg-Casco shared the overall title, which combined performance in the regular-season mini-meets and the conference championship.

2018 conference medalist

Marinette junior Matt Wagner and freshman teammate Ty Kretz shot matching 79s at Brown County GC in Oneida to share medalist honors at the North Eastern Conference Championship, two strokes ahead of Wrightstown senior Logan Cieslewicz.

Top 2018 WIAA finishes

Team: Waupaca shot 347 and finished tied for second at the WIAA Division 2 Ripon sectional, losing 17-18 in a team playoff to Winneconne for the last of two state tournament berths. They finished eight shots behind sectional champion Peshtigo. Individual: Marinette junior Matt Wagner shot 88-81 and finished tied for 29th place at the WIAA Division 2 state tournament, his 169 total putting him 22 shots behind state champion Lukas Heckmann (68-79) of Lakeside Lutheran. Waupaca freshman Eli Bartel was tied for 35th on rounds of 89-83.

Looking ahead

Preseason top three

Marinette, Luxemburg-Casco, Little Chute.

Preseason all-conference

First team:  Eli Bartel, so., Waupaca; Ty Kretz, so., Marinette; Bradley Lentz, jr., Fox Valley Lutheran; Andrew Spengler, sr., Luxemburg-Casco; Matt Wagner, sr., Marinette.

Second team: Matt Dorn, jr., Luxemburg-Casco; Justin Job, sr., Little Chute; Wes Knutson, sr., Marinette; Ben Nanze, jr., Luxemburg-Casco; Clayton Rathsack, jr., Oconto Falls.

What to watch

Waupaca's 1-2 punch of Mason Gardner and Noah Carrick has graduated, but Marinette's dynamic duo of Matt Wagner and Ty Kretz — co-medalists at the 2018 North Eastern Conference Championship — is back. That gives the Marines a considerable edge at the top of a conference that features an abundance of seasoned talent. Wagner and Kretz are among four golfers back for Marinette, which is the same volume of experience back for Luxemburg-Casco where senior Andrew Spengler looks to battle the Marinette tandem atop the conference. Little Chute returns four of its top five golfers, but needs to show a better consistency than it did a year ago come tournament time to make a run at a North Eastern title. Waupaca lost a lot at the top, but the back end of the its lineup — led by sophomore Eli Bartel, a state qualifier last season — wasn't too shabby, either, and should keep the Comets in the title conversation by the end of the spring. Freedom, Wrightstown or Fox Valley Lutheran were each expected to return three golfers and could be a factor if they are able to develop No. 1 golfers capable of hanging with the North Eastern heavyweights and develop some depth behind their top three.

Circle these dates

April 15 — North Eastern Conference Mini-Meet #1 (Fox Valley GC-Kaukauna). April 16 — North Eastern Conference Mini-Meet #2 (Riverside GC-Clintonville). April 20 — Seymour Invitational (Crystal Springs GC-Seymour). April 22 — William Hearden Memorial Tournament (Green Bay CC). April 23 — North Eastern Conference Mini-Meet #3 (Northbrook CC-Luxemburg).  April 24 — Patrick Fridland Memorial Tournament (Ledgeview GC-De Pere). April 25 — North Eastern Conference Mini-Meet #4 (Little River CC-Marintete). April 26 — Oshkosh Lourdes Invitational (Lake Breeze GC-Winneconne); New London Invitational (Shamrock Heights GC-New London). April 29 — Green Bay Notre Dame Invitational (Oneida G&RC-Green Bay). May 1 — Green Lake/Princeton Invitational (GC of Lawsonia-Green Lake); Wrightstown Invitational (Wander Springs GC-Greenleaf). May 2 — North Eastern Conference Mini-Meet #5 (The Creeks at Ivy Acres GC-Hortonville). May 3 — Freedom Invitational (Irish Waters GC-Freedom). May 6 — Berlin Invitational (Mascoutin GC-Berlin). May 7 — Marinette Invitational (Little River GC-Marintte); Sevastopol Invitational (Horseshoe Bay GC-Egg Harbor). May 8 — Kimberly Invitational (High Cliff GC-Menasha). May 9 — Neenah Invitational (Ridgeway CC-Neenah); Shiocton Invitational (The Creeks at Ivy Acres-Hortonville); Oconto Falls Invitational (River Island GC-Oconto Falls). May 10 — Crivitz Invitational (Hunters Glen GC-Crivitz). May 15 — North Eastern Conference Championship (Brown County GC-Green Bay).

rob@killarneygolfmedia.com

Rob started covering the Wisconsin golf scene in 1987 at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison & has been the only reporter covering all levels of state golf. He joined Killarney Golf Media in Sept. 2015 & helped launch Wisconsin.Golf in Jan. 2016.