CAMBRIDGE — If only Austin Georger had a dollar for every time someone told him "there's always next year" after losing a three-player sudden death playoff at the 2019 WIAA Division 1 Green Bay Notre Dame sectional for the final two spots in the state tournament.
"About every single person" offered that comfort, the rising senior from Appleton West said Monday as he described reaction from friends, family, coaches and teammates a year ago at Thornberry Creek at Oneida where he birdied the final two holes to join the the playoff only to fall on the first extra hole when seniors Trent Thomas of Green Bay Southwest and Cole Hanke of Green Bay Preble both made birdies to advance.
"They were all telling me 'You had a great round' with that birdie-birdie finish to get into the playoff. And about everyone I came off (the playoff) and talked to would tell me 'You'll be there next year.' "
Next year arrived Monday, which was supposed to be opening day of the WIAA state tournament at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison.
Of course, the WIAA canceled the spring sports season 55 days earlier due to the COVID-19 pandemic, shuttering the entire boys golf season for the first time in the sport's history. And that's why Georger was 30 miles due east of University Ridge at sporty Lake Ripley Country Club on a sun-splashed morning for the second event of the year on the Wisconsin PGA Junior Tour.
The scores of spectators that would have trailed Georger at the state tournament were replaced by COVID-19-mandated restrictions that included just one adult per golfer in the gallery. There was no exchange of scorecards at the beginning of the round — every golfer in each group tallied all scores — and no scoreboard or awards after the round.
Georger, who lost a critical opportunity for college evaluation when his junior season faded into history, shot a 79 to finish tied for fifth. He got to keep his scorecard (another COVID-19 tweak to the rules that would normally stipulate that all scorecards be signed and submitted) and headed home.
This was a day that came and went with little awareness that, most years, it would have been a monumental day for many boys in the Lake Ripley field.
"I didn't know it was the first day of state until (playing partner Karl Gilmore of Madison Edgewood) told me on the first tee," said rising senior Silas Pickhardt of Madison Memorial, a two-time sectional qualifier who birdied two of his last three holes to shoot 2-under 70 and win the 35-player boys overall title by three shots.
"At first, it was a bummer not having a season, obviously," Pickhardt said, aware that four of the five golfers from his 2019 team were coming back and that the Spartans were adding two freshmen ranked in the top 20 of the Wisconsin.Golf Class of 2023 state rankings. "But I got over it quickly, especially once golf courses opened (after a month-long, state-mandated closure) and I got to go out and play with friends. And I've been working with the younger guys on my team quite a bit so that's fun."
Monday was a pleasant reminder, though, that kids are far more resilient than the adults who worry about them.
Gilmore had every reason to spend it brooding over the fact that he was starting his summer schedule, not ending a busy spring season. In fact, COVID-19 not only claimed his senior season at Madison Edgewood (and his chance to chase down a fourth straight WIAA Division 2 state title), but it also canceled a family trip to Scotland.
However, a week's stay at the famed Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina erased any disappointment Gilmore had about staying on this side of the pond. (If you are scoring at home, Gilmore played No. 6, No. 1, No. 4 "and then I just played No. 2 from the U.S. Open tees" with a 46 on the front nine and a 39 on the back.)
And, in a way, there was a teeny-tiny bit of closure Monday. Gilmore got to see Alwang Deang, who would have been his freshman teammate and — as the No. 1-ranked Class of 2023 golfer by Wisconsin.Golf — a big reason why another state title run was not out of the question for Edgewood.
"This year was going to be a lot different than all my other years because I would have been the oldest on the team for the first time," Gilmore said. I know that Al would have brought a lot of greatness to the team. I know he's a grinder. He plays a lot of golf. I was looking to that."
Deang said: "I was really disappointed. I know Karl's a good golfer and I'm a decent golfer and the people we have on our Edgewood team, we have a lot of good golfers. I think we would have been competing for a state championship. I'm said that it's ruined. I'm sad for Karl that his season ended. I wish it got to end better."
Monday, however, did end with a hint of poignance. While they didn't get to play together, Gilmore and Deang both shot 78s and finished what should have been a special day in a special way — in a tie for third place, eight shots behind Pickhardt.
|1||Silas Pickhardt 2021, Madison, WI||F||E||70|
|2||Hunter Zientek 2022, Helenville, WI||F||+3||73|
|T3||Karl Gilmore 2020, Verona, WI||F||+8||78|
|T3||Alwang Deang 2023, Madison, WI||F||+8||78|
|T5||Austin Georger 2021, Appleton, WI||F||+9||79|
|T5||Alec Sosnowski 2022, Verona, WI||F||+9||79|
|T5||Tyson Malak 2022, Elgin, IL||F||+9||79|
|T5||Wyatt Marshall 2024, Janesville, WI||F||+9||79|
|T5||Alex Weiss 2023, Middleton, WI||F||+9||79|
|10||Robert Warda 2023, Middleton, WI||F||+10||80|
|T11||Jake Anderson 2021, Whitefish Bay, WI||F||+11||81|
|T11||Charlie Erlandson 2023, Verona, WI||F||+11||81|
|13||Jacob Frederickson 2022, Cottage Grove, WI||F||+12||82|
|T14||Trey Oswald 2022, Beloit, WI||F||+14||84|
|T14||Dain Johnson 2024, Middleton, WI||F||+14||84|
|T16||Stone Farruggio 2021, Cambridge, WI||F||+15||85|
|T16||Gio Simonini 2023, Madison, WI||F||+15||85|
|T16||Sam Godager 2023, Madison, WI||F||+15||85|
|T19||Joshua Anderson 2023, Lindenhurst, IL||F||+17||87|
|T19||Peter Hoeppner 2023, Waukesha, WI||F||+17||87|
|T19||Keegan Farmer 2024, Iron ridge, WI||F||+17||87|
|T19||Brayden Brown 2022, Fort Atkinson, WI||F||+17||87|
|T19||August Johnson 2022, Waunakee, WI||F||+17||87|
|24||Ben Thomas 2022, Pewaukee, WI||F||+18||88|
|T25||Samuel Hjortland 2024, Stoughton, WI||F||+19||89|
|T25||Colin Quam 2024, Stoughton, WI||F||+19||89|
|T27||Quinn Reeves 2021, Wausau, WI||F||+20||90|
|T27||K.C. Nickel 2024, Waunakee||F||+20||90|
|29||Logan Bularz 2023, Hartland, WI||F||+21||91|
|T30||Zachary Koch 2023, Franklin, WI||F||+22||92|
|T30||Ethan Brown 2024, Fort Atkinson, WI||F||+22||92|
|32||Tyler Fisel 2021, Kenosha, WI||F||+23||93|
|33||Elliot Caulum 2021, Madison, WI||F||+24||94|
|34||Brandt Hlavachek 2024, Pewaukee, WI||F||+31||101|
|35||Niko Parmann 2022, Oconomowoc, WI||F||+35||105|
|1||Mason Burke 2025, Ft. Atkinson, WI||F||+10||80|
|T2||Noah Frederickson 2025, Cottage Grove, WI||F||+12||82|
|T2||Cooper McLaughlin 2024, Oshkosh, WI||F||+12||82|
|4||Luke Weiss 2026, Middleton, Wi, WI||F||+17||87|
|T5||Luke Hlavachek 2025, Pewaukee, WI||F||+18||88|
|T5||Jack Kammer 2025, Fort Atkinson, WI||F||+18||88|
|7||Conner Brown 2024, Stoughton, WI||F||+25||95|
|8||Kalen Staver 2025, Monona, WI||F||+30||100|
|9||Joseph Houseman 2025, Madison, WI||F||+33||103|
|10||Jonathan Moon 2026, Baraboo, WI||F||+35||105|
|T11||Sean Clark 2025, Monona, WI||F||+43||113|
|T11||Gavin Klahn 2025, Sun Prairie, WI||F||+43||113|
|1||Brighton Young 2021, Loves Park, IL||F||+3||73|
|2||Ava Salay 2023, Prescott, WI||F||+6||76|
|T3||Kylie Lanza 2021, Hartland, WI||F||+8||78|
|T3||Mya Nicholson 2024, Milton, WI||F||+8||78|
|T5||Madi Vine 2019, Beloit, WI||F||+9||79|
|T5||Madison Haugen 2024, Brookfield, WI||F||+9||79|
|T7||Avery Dudra 2022, Suamico, WI||F||+10||80|
|T7||Izzi Stricker 2024, Madison, WI||F||+10||80|
|9||Carly Moon 2020, Baraboo, WI||F||+14||84|
|10||Natalie Hoege 2021, Waunakee, WI||F||+17||87|
|11||Eva Kumer 2022, Brookfield, WI||F||+18||88|
|T12||Jada Chang 2021, Hartland, WI||F||+20||90|
|T12||Emily Roberts 2022, Highland Park, IL||F||+20||90|
|T14||Payton Schmidt 2024, Jefferson, WI||F||+22||92|
|T14||Belle Kongshaug 2026, Elk Mound, WI||F||+22||92|
|T16||Chloe Moore 2023, Dousman, WI||F||+26||96|
|T16||McKenna Nelson 2027, Beaver Dam, WI||F||+26||96|
|18||Bela Dodd 2026, Brookfield, WI||F||+27||97|
|19||Natalie Kammer 2022, Fort Atkinson, WI||F||+28||98|
|20||Layla Salay 2027, River Falls, WI||F||+30||100|
|21||Olivia Cronin 2022, Beloit, WI||F||+33||103|
|22||Lauren Lostetter 2022, Lake Mills, WI||F||+43||113|
|23||Madelyn Parrish 2023, Lake Mills, WI||F||+53||123|
|24||Katarina Toepfer 2021, Deerfield||F||+68||138|