Austin Georger, Appleton West

Austin Georger, Appleton, competes at the 2020 WPGA Junior Tour event at Lake Ripley CC in Cambridge.

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.

Boys overall

1Silas Pickhardt  2021, Madison, WIFE70 
2Hunter Zientek  2022, Helenville, WIF+373 
T3Karl Gilmore  2020, Verona, WIF+878 
T3Alwang Deang  2023, Madison, WIF+878 
T5Austin Georger  2021, Appleton, WIF+979 
T5Alec Sosnowski  2022, Verona, WIF+979 
T5Tyson Malak  2022, Elgin, ILF+979 
T5Wyatt Marshall  2024, Janesville, WIF+979 
T5Alex Weiss  2023, Middleton, WIF+979 
10Robert Warda  2023, Middleton, WIF+1080 
T11Jake Anderson  2021, Whitefish Bay, WIF+1181 
T11Charlie Erlandson  2023, Verona, WIF+1181 
13Jacob Frederickson  2022, Cottage Grove, WIF+1282 
T14Trey Oswald  2022, Beloit, WIF+1484 
T14Dain Johnson  2024, Middleton, WIF+1484 
T16Stone Farruggio  2021, Cambridge, WIF+1585 
T16Gio Simonini  2023, Madison, WIF+1585 
T16Sam Godager  2023, Madison, WIF+1585 
T19Joshua Anderson  2023, Lindenhurst, ILF+1787 
T19Peter Hoeppner  2023, Waukesha, WIF+1787 
T19Keegan Farmer  2024, Iron ridge, WIF+1787 
T19Brayden Brown  2022, Fort Atkinson, WIF+1787 
T19August Johnson  2022, Waunakee, WIF+1787 
24Ben Thomas  2022, Pewaukee, WIF+1888 
T25Samuel Hjortland  2024, Stoughton, WIF+1989 
T25Colin Quam  2024, Stoughton, WIF+1989 
T27Quinn Reeves  2021, Wausau, WIF+2090 
T27K.C. Nickel  2024, WaunakeeF+2090 
29Logan Bularz  2023, Hartland, WIF+2191 
T30Zachary Koch  2023, Franklin, WIF+2292 
T30Ethan Brown  2024, Fort Atkinson, WIF+2292 
32Tyler Fisel  2021, Kenosha, WIF+2393 
33Elliot Caulum  2021, Madison, WIF+2494 
34Brandt Hlavachek  2024, Pewaukee, WIF+31101 
35Niko Parmann  2022, Oconomowoc, WIF+35105 

Boys 12-13

1Mason Burke  2025, Ft. Atkinson, WIF+1080 
T2Noah Frederickson  2025, Cottage Grove, WIF+1282 
T2Cooper McLaughlin  2024, Oshkosh, WIF+1282 
4Luke Weiss  2026, Middleton, Wi, WIF+1787 
T5Luke Hlavachek  2025, Pewaukee, WIF+1888 
T5Jack Kammer  2025, Fort Atkinson, WIF+1888 
7Conner Brown  2024, Stoughton, WIF+2595 
8Kalen Staver  2025, Monona, WIF+30100 
9Joseph Houseman  2025, Madison, WIF+33103 
10Jonathan Moon  2026, Baraboo, WIF+35105 
T11Sean Clark  2025, Monona, WIF+43113 
T11Gavin Klahn  2025, Sun Prairie, WIF+43113 

Girls overall

1Brighton Young  2021, Loves Park, ILF+373 
2Ava Salay  2023, Prescott, WIF+676 
T3Kylie Lanza  2021, Hartland, WIF+878 
T3Mya Nicholson  2024, Milton, WIF+878 
T5Madi Vine  2019, Beloit, WIF+979 
T5Madison Haugen  2024, Brookfield, WIF+979 
T7Avery Dudra  2022, Suamico, WIF+1080 
T7Izzi Stricker  2024, Madison, WIF+1080 
9Carly Moon  2020, Baraboo, WIF+1484 
10Natalie Hoege  2021, Waunakee, WIF+1787 
11Eva Kumer  2022, Brookfield, WIF+1888 
T12Jada Chang  2021, Hartland, WIF+2090 
T12Emily Roberts  2022, Highland Park, ILF+2090 
T14Payton Schmidt  2024, Jefferson, WIF+2292 
T14Belle Kongshaug  2026, Elk Mound, WIF+2292 
T16Chloe Moore  2023, Dousman, WIF+2696 
T16McKenna Nelson  2027, Beaver Dam, WIF+2696 
18Bela Dodd  2026, Brookfield, WIF+2797 
19Natalie Kammer  2022, Fort Atkinson, WIF+2898 
20Layla Salay  2027, River Falls, WIF+30100 
21Olivia Cronin  2022, Beloit, WIF+33103 
22Lauren Lostetter  2022, Lake Mills, WIF+43113 
23Madelyn Parrish  2023, Lake Mills, WIF+53123 
24Katarina Toepfer  2021, DeerfieldF+68138 

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