Brock Hlinak chip '18 State Am.jpg

Brock Hlinak chips from the rough during the 2018 State Amateur played at Minocqua Country Club.

Brock Hlinak has been distinguishing himself on the Wisconsin junior golf scene for the last three years, but the Kaukauna golfer distinguished himself this year among Wisconsin boys in the Class of 2019 — and, for the third year in a row, earned the No. 1 ranking in his class in the Wisconsin.Golf update — by what he did in the state’s two top events for golfers of all ages.

At the Wisconsin State Amateur Championship, Hlinak shot 68-72-70-72 at Minocqua Country Club and placed third, three shots out of the playoff Vanderbilt golfer Harrison Ott of Brookfield won in an epic, eight-hole playoff over University of Minnesota golfer Thomas Longbella of Chippewa Falls. At the Wisconsin State Open Championship, Hlinak shot 72-69-72-80 at North Shore Golf Club in Menasha, getting within eight shots of the lead after 54 holes before tying for 49th, 20 shots behind former University of Wisconsin golfer Dan Woltman, who won his third State Open title.

Hlinak and Hartland Arrowhead’s Piercen Hunt, a junior who recently gave his oral commitment to NCAA Division I power Illinois, were the only two high school golfers to make the 36-hole cut in both events. Hlinak finished two shots ahead of Hunt at the State Am and one shot ahead of the No. 1 golfer in the Wisconsin.Golf update of the Class of 2020 rankings at the State Open.

For what it’s worth, only two golfers currently on a Division I roster in Wisconsin finished ahead of Hlinak in either event — Marquette’s Hunter Eichhorn and UW-Green Bay’s Ben Gilles, both at the State Open and only after Hlinak beat both of them at the State Amateur a month earlier.

It’s worth a lot in my book because, in my 30 years covering junior golf in Wisconsin, I’m hard-pressed to recall someone as accomplished as Hlinak as overlooked in the recruiting process. He was offered early by UW-Green Bay, late by Marquette and not at all by Wisconsin — instead signing his National Letter of Intent recently to attend Division II Queens University of Charlotte (N.C.). With Hunt off to Illinois in 2020, the Wisconsin’s golf community has to wonder if and when another home-grown talent will receive offers from all three in-state Division I schools.

Wisconsin.Golf’s updated rankings for this year’s senior class reflect the ends of the earth that today’s collegiate hopefuls must go to continue their golf careers. Following a Class of 2018 in which Wisconsin golfers went as far away as DeLand, Florida and Fargo, North Dakota, the Class of 2019 might take it to another level when it comes to frequent-flier miles.

Besides the North Carolina-bound Hlinak, two other signed golfers in the Wisconsin.Golf top five are also headed to the East Coast. No. 2 Jack Blair of Milwaukee Marquette — the co-No. 1 in this class with Hlinak a year ago — will attend Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, while No. 5 Blake Wisdom of Lake Geneva Badger will play at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, No. 4 Drew Sagrillo, a Milwaukee Marquette golfer from Pewaukee, will attend Dominican University in San Rafael, California, north of San Francisco and No. 9 Lukas Heckmann, a Lakeside Lutheran golfer from Middleton, will attend the University of New Orleans. With 10 golfers in the top 20 still uncommitted or their choices unannounced, there is no telling how many more dots on the map this class will leave and where they will appear.

Of course, heading into their final spring of high school golf, the only destination they are worried about is trying to catch Hlinak at No. 1. But he’s not going to make that easy.

In seven WPGA Junior points events against golfers his age this year, Hlinak finished sixth or better in five of them. After tying for third at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament, he tied for sixth at the Lake Arrowhead Invitational, placed 16th at the WPGA Junior Championship (five strokes out of second place and three shots out of the top five), second at the WPGA Morgan Stanley Junior Tour Championship and fifth at the WSGA Junior Boys Championship.

But 2018 will go down as a year for the ages for Hlinak, who made 17 seem so venerable.

Boys Class of 2019

The Wisconsin.Golf class-by-class rankings are compiled by digital editor Rob Hernandez based on an analysis of tournament results and overall impact of golfers within their class. Opinions and insight on golfers in this class are welcome and will be used for future rankings; updates on college decisions are also welcome. They can be shared via email at robhernandezdotgolf@gmail.com.  

No. First name Last name High School College choice Nov. 2017 Nov. 2016
1 Brock Hlinak Kaukauna Queens College (N.C.) 1 1
2 Jack Blair Milwaukee Marquette Brown University T1 3
3 Matthew Raab Hartland Arrowhead 6 10
4 Drew Sagrillo Milwaukee Marquette Dominican (Calif.) 8 NR
5 Blake Wisdom Lake Geneva Badger Bucknell University 15 23
6 Austin Thyes Sheboygan North 19 25
7 Zak Kulka Beaver Dam UW-Green Bay 9 9
8 Danny Sanicki Menomonee Falls UW-Parkside 16 18
9 Lukas Heckmann Lakeside Lutheran University of New Orleans 3 14
10 James Gilmore Madison Edgewood 20 17
11 Tyler Cleaves Kaukauna 4 4
12 Sean Murphy Waunakee UW-Eau Claire 7 8
13 Max Schmidtke Sheboygan North 23 7
14 Connor Brown Union Grove 25 NR
15 Jack Anderson Brookfield Central 5 5
16 Doyle Kelly Fond du Lac Springs 10 12
17 Andrew Clement Pewaukee 11 2
18 Steven Sanicki Menomonee Falls UW-Parkside 12 22
19 Ethan Carrick Sun Prairie UW-Eau Claire 13 15
20 Mason Schulz Mukwonago 26 19
21 James Johnson Greendale NR NR
22 Evan Thomas Stevens Point 31 11
23 Billy Peterson Eau Claire Memorial 17 20
24 Zach Bernhardt Eau Claire Memorial 18 NR
25 Kyle Wille Edgerton 36 NR
26 Cody Dirks Holmen NR NR
27 Nolan Ruffing Franklin 21 13
28 Ian Behringer Manitowoc NR NR
29 Kasey Casper Coleman 14 NR
30 Joe Forsting Edgerton Iowa Central CC 37 NR
31 Zach Walsh Brookfield East NR NR
32 Kody Koehn Mukwonago NR NR
33 Grant Wininger Racine St. Catherine's NR NR
34 Carter Schmidt Germantown NR NR
35 Matthew Hach New Glarus NR NR
36 AJ Gray Milton 27 NR
37 Austin Gaby Verona NR NR
38 Ben Baur Marshfield NR NR
39 Taylor Burger Superior NR NR
40 Hunter Robinson St. Croix Falls NR NR
41 Max Schneider Neenah 32 NR
42 Jacob Schlosser Kewaskum 22 NR
43 Ben Peloquin Schofield D.C. Everest NR NR
44 Adam Lazaroff Lakeland (Minocqua) NR NR
45 Ethan Wilkins Lake Country Lutheran NR NR
46 Joe Mazurek Germantown NR NR
47 Boomer Zierath Madison Abunant Life/Country Day 33 NR
48 Jack Rollins Madison Abunant Life/Country Day 33 NR
49 Bryce Peters Winneconne 29 NR
50 Blake Zadra Rice Lake 30 21

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.