D1 Day2 Hannah Dunk

Hannah Dunk of Milton follows through on a drive during the 2021 WIAA Division 1 championship. She finished in a four-way tie for 10th.

Golfer of the week

Hannah Dunk, Milton. Janesville Country Club was chosen as the site for the WIAA Division 1 Janesville Parker sectional Monday because, quite frankly, it figured to deliver a challenge to an eight-team field that included the top two teams in the Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin state rankings since the very first week of the season.

It delivered a challenge ... and then some.

While top-ranked and defending state champion Westosha Central (306.9) and No. 2 Union Grove (316.4) advanced to next week's state tournament with scores — 344 and 357, respectively — that looked nothing like their season averages (in parentheses), Dunk became a three-time state qualifier by making her round look like so many others over her four-year career.

The UW-Green Bay recruit shot a 1-over-par 73 and cruised to a six-stroke win over Union Grove senior Allie McBryde, the Broncos' No. 2 golfer behind North Dakota State recruit Norah Roberts (85). On a day when par was a great score, Dunk made 14 of them to go with two birdies, one bogey and one double-bogey that resulted from an attention to staying below the hole on greens running between 11 and 12 on the Stimpmeter.

“Those downhill putts were fast,” Dunk, a member at Janesville CC, told the Janesville Gazette. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen these greens so fast. Usually I’m not that concerned about (being below the hole). But (Monday), I was super concerned about it.”

Dunk's 37-36 card made her one of just eight golfers in the 48-golfer field to improve her nine-hole score from the front to the back and one of three to break 100 in doing so. The back nine (53.25) at Janesville CC — founded in 1894 as the state's first golf club — played nearly four strokes more difficult than the front (49.48) with 11 double-digit hole scores on the closing nine vs. just four on the front.

Crazy finish of the week I

WIAA DI Riley Pechinski

Riley Pechinski of Stevens Point follows through on a shot during the 2021 WIAA championship at University Ridge.

Stevens Point. As Riley Pechinski described it, the approach shot that the defending WIAA Division 1 state champion from Stevens Point hit to the 332-yard 18th hole Monday at Troy Burne GC in Hudson was as good as she can remember.

"I stood over the ball thinking 'What am I going to do because all I need to do is fly it over the bunkers in front of the green,'" the Panthers senior told Wisconsin.Golf via text, describing her 77-yard approach shot from a "downhill, side-hill" lie to the elevated green. "So I gripped down on the club with a very odd stance and took a three-quarters 54-degree wedge.  One of the best shots I ever hit given the atmosphere."

Oh, yes, the atmosphere. That, too, was as tense and tumultuous as anyone can remember at a sectional. But more on that later.

"I had an idea of where it was heading, but I couldn't even see the pin from where I was," Pechinski wrote of a shot that landed inches from the cup for a tap-in birdie. "The crowd made a lot of noice so I knew it was a good shot."

It not only put the finishing touches on an even-par 72 and gave the UW-Green Bay recruit a six-shot victory over Tomah's Amelia Zingler, but it brought to an end a wild 30 minutes of see-saw golf between Stevens Point (368) and New Richmond (369) for the second state berth behind champion Tomah (362).

The Panthers, down three shots to New Richmond through 15 holes, rallied to take a one-stroke lead after the No. 1 golfers finished No. 17. That vanished into a six-stroke deficit after Stevens Point senior Clare Viau took an 11 on the final hole and lost seven shots to fellow No. 3 golfer Kailey Stevens of New Richmond, who parred the hole. The Panthers got two shots back at the No. 2 spot thanks to a bogey from Ava Frederiksen, setting the stage for Pechinski.

"I had no idea what was going on in front of me as I got to (No.) 18," wrote Pechinski, who only knew that playing partner Abbie Ritzer hit her tee shot on the closing hole out-of-bounds on her way to making an 8 and losing five shots to Pechinski's birdie. "On (Nos.) 16,17 and 18, the pace of play sped up a lot so we weren't waiting and watching the whole time. ... So my mindset was to just punch it down (the fairway off the tee) and hit a good second shot in."

What she hoped would be a good second shot turned into a shot that neither she nor her Stevens Point teammates will soon forget.

"I am just super proud of what we have done this year," wrote Pechinski, who was a freshman in 2019 when the Panthers made just the program's second state appearance. "From starting the season off with five girls and trying to build a team (they now have 10 golfers in the program), it shows a lot from each of us. We love to have fun with each other, and this is an experience we will all remember for the rest of our lives no matter how we finish."

HOW THE BACK NINE DECIDED THE KIMBERLY SECTIONAL

Team F9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Bay Port 16 21 17 16 20 17 20 17 20
180 196 217 234 250 270 287 307 324 344
2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Kaukauna 19 21 16 22 23 19 19 16 19
176 195 216 232 254 277 296 315 331 350
1st 1st 1st 1st 2nd T-2 3rd T-2 3rd 2nd
Notre Dame 19 18 17 20 18 17 21 15 21
185 204 222 239 259 277 294 315 330 351
T-4 6th 5th 6th 3rd T-2 2nd T-2 2nd 3rd
Appleton North 16 20 16 24 22 20 16 15 18
185 201 221 237 261 283 303 319 334 352
T-4 4th T-3 T-3 T-5 6th 6th 4th 4th 4th
Neenah 17 21 16 23 21 20 20 18 24
183 200 221 237 260 281 301 321 339 363
3rd 3rd T-3 T-3 4th 4th 5th 5th 5th 5th
Pulaski 18 21 14 23 21 17 26 20 20
185 203 224 238 261 282 299 325 345 365
T-4 5th 6th 5th T-5 5th 4th 6th 6th 6th
Team F9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Crazy finish of the week II

Kaukauna. The Galloping Ghosts owned a four-stroke lead on Bay Port as teams made the turn Tuesday at the Kimberly sectional at High Cliff GC in Sherwood. There were five other teams within nine shots of the lead.

"Playing under pressure is a privilege; we embrace it," Kaukauna co-coach Pete Benson wrote via text message to Wisconsin.Golf after his team lost the lead by the 13th hole and then was forced to endure two ties and three lead changes with Notre Dame (Green Bay) over the final five, tension-filled holes. "Practice with a purpose to meet your potential. One shot at a time. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Old cliches that we emphasize all the time."

It was the thrilling reality Tuesday as Kaukauna took the lead from the Tritons for good with a par from No. 3 golfer Norah Berken on the 308-yard, par-4 18th hole and then held on as No. 2 golfer McKenna picked up one shot from Notre Dame's Ella Gelb with a bogey before the Tritons' Grace Durkin got it back from Ava Block with a par. In the end, Block's bogey finished off an 89 for her, a 350 for Kaukauna and the second state berth by one shot over Notre Dame while Bay Port avoided all the excitement by shooting a rock-solid 164 on the back nine to win its 11th consecutive pre-state leg of the WIAA tournament — and earn its sixth straight state berth — with a 344 total.

"All year, we have been tougher on the back nine in meets," Benson wrote. "Those experiences have prepared us for these situations. (I'm) so proud the girls love the privilege.

"Norah has worked hard on all aspects of her game and now has the confidence to compete at this level. She is embracing the opportunities. Everyone played the back nine tough. After a bad shot, they got tougher."

Jacklyn Thao | '20 WIAA champ

Jacklyn Thao | 2020 WIAA Championship

Crazy finish of the week III

Madison Edgewood. Because the five groups separated each of the five corresponding golfers between Edgewood and Aquinas (La Crosse) as they played in different waves of the Prairie du Chien sectional Monday, the Crusaders gained ground on the Blugolds much sooner than Aquinas came back to the 15-time WIAA state champions.

At the end of the day, though, what Edgewood did on the back nine to earn its sixth consecutive WIAA state tournament berth and 25th overall was nothing short of remarkable. 

The Crusaders were mired in fifth place after shooting 203 on the front nine, 13 strokes behind first-place Lancaster and nine shots behind Aquinas. They would ultimately drop eight more strokes to the Blugolds on No. 10 and fall 18 shots out of state contention after 13 holes before doing enough work over the final five holes in the middle wave of teams, losing just 10 strokes to par over the final three holes, the same stretch where Aquinas would drop 23 soon after.

Once the dust settled, the pars Edgewood got from senior Sarah Nakada and freshman Naomi Clayton and the bogeys it got from juniors Jacklyn Thao and Maddie Brandrup were just enough to withstand the birdie Aquinas got from freshman Molly Swift, the bogeys it got from sophomores Emma Dobbins and Tenny Makepeace and the double-bogey from junior Elise Tomashek in the final group. Lancaster won with a 381 while Edgewood advanced by one shot with its 396.

"The mood was a little tense at the turn," first-year Edgewood coach Corey Sielaff wrote in a text to Wisconsin.Golf after getting an 85 from Nakada, a 98 from Thao, a 99 from Clayton and a 114 from Brandrup. "(I) had a few girls really struggle on the front with a few blow-up holes. But I went around and tried to encourage them with the simple message that 'we are still in this.' Sometimes that’s all a competitor needs to be reminded of.

"And our girls really answered the bell. I was really impressed with Jacklyn Thao's ability to regroup after a really hard front and right the ship mentally and with her score. And every player really dug in at one point or another.

"Winning by one stroke, it’s important for each girl to look back and remember that one shot where they pushed everything away and focused to get on the green or off the tee or drain a putt."

WIAA SECTIONAL CHAMPS prescott

2022 WIAA Division 2 Northwestern (Maple) sectional champions | Prescott

PRESCOTT'S REMARKABLE RUN

Since finishing last among eight teams at the 2018 WIAA Division 2 Edgewood (Madison) sectional, Prescott has won eight consecutive regional and sectional titles and 10 straight legs of the WIAA postseason, including two state titles, in all. Their only runner-up finish over the last four years came to Edgewood at the WIAA Division 2 state tournament.
Level 2022 2021 2020 2019
State TBA 338-333 186-374 376-397*
Sectional 331 318 349 390
Regional 330 343 339 379

Team of the week

Prescott. It's been quite a ride the last four years for the Cardinals and it would be easy to dismiss their 37-stroke victory Monday at the WIAA Division 2 Northwestern (Maple) sectional and chalk it up as just another win.

On the contrary, Prescott's sectional championship marked its eighth consecutive pre-state victory dating to a last-place finish at the 2018 Edgewood (Madison) sectional. It is also the Cardinals' eight consecutive postseason victory, a stretch that includes their back-to-back state titles — in 2020 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler and in 2021 at University Ridge.

Prescott, which won the Baldwin-Woodville regional with a 330, won the sectional with a 331 and is the only Division 2 team in the state to break 350 in either the regional or sectional levels this fall. Having University of Wisconsin commit Ava Salay on its side has been a big help, but sophomore Gabbi Matzek shot an 83, her third consecutive personal-best, out of the No. 5 position and, this time, was the second-lowest score for the Cardinals behind Salay's winning 73.

"All of the girls have significantly out-performed the goal numbers that I had for them coming into this season," Prescott coach Chad Salay wrote in a text to Wisconsin.Golf, mindful that senior Rhi Stutz's 40.9 nine-hole scoring average will go down as the fifth best single-season average in school history behind the four that his daughter has authored and that another senior, Maddie Reiter, has been, in his words, "a rock" on the back-to-back state championship teams. "She's had some bumps this season, but handles pressure like a veteran and continues to clean up her game and is playing more and more solid every day."

Comeback of the week

Payton Dudra, Bay Port. The aforementioned rollercoaster that Kaukauna rode to the second state berth out of the Division 1 Kimberly sectional also had a pretty heady freshman from Bay Port along for the ride.

Dudra bounced back from a 51 on the front nine at High Cliff GC in Greenville with a 39 on the back for the Pirates, who were in second place, four strokes behind Kaukauna, at the turn. Bay Port turned on the jets from there, shooting 164 on the back nine to win with a 344 — six strokes ahead of Kaukauna, a margin Dudra's personal comeback fostered. 

Brookfield East | sectional champs

Brookfield East freshman Payton Haugen (front left) and junior sister Madison (behind the wheel) finished 1-2 at the WIAA Division 1 Fond du Lac sectional.

Duo of the week

Payton and Madison Haugen, Brookfield East. Here they go again! The Spartans' stellar sister act followed up their impressive regional showing with another at Tuesday's Fond du Lac sectional and, this time, no one got between them.

Payton Haugen, a freshman, shot a 3-under-par 69 and her junior sister shot 74 to finish 1-2 as Brookfield East shot 313 and won the sectional title by 35 strokes. It marks the first sectional title in program history for the Spartans, whose two previous state appearances in 2021 and 2012 came as sectional runners-up.

"Sectionals with Payton was so much fun," Madison Haugen wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf. "It allowed our team to do so well, and it was really special finishing and knowing we are going to state together."

Payton Haugen added: "Ever since I watched Maddie play at state her freshman year, I have been dreaming about this experience for us."

There was no day-dreaming Tuesday for Payton Haugen, who made six birdies and three bogeys on her round. She birdied four holes in a row between Nos. 8 and 11.

"While Rolling Meadows plays short, there is a lot of water and trouble to avoid," Payton Haugen wrote after she, sister Madison and Kate Bogenschutz of Cedarburg (76) were the only golfers to break 80 in the 48-player field. "The greens were pretty fast for a public course and some holes played difficult. That course is easy for someone to blow up on and I think considering that there were only three sub-80 scores, that really proved who’s best."

By the way, East's other sister duo of senior Josie (86) and sophomore Macy (84) Clegg weren't too shabby, either. The 84 for Macy Clegg was a personal best.

Rookie of the week

Maddi Fletcher, Westby/Viroqua. The freshman from Viroqua has come a long way since shooting a 115 and finishing T-28 at the Onalaska Invitational at La Crosse Country Club the first week of the season.

Heck, she has come a long way since shooting 98 at the Black River Falls regional just a week ago and earning one of the two final berths into Tuesday's Prairie du Chien sectional. But there's a long way to go before Fletcher's rookie season with the Westby/Viroqua co-op program is finished after she shot 84 and grabbed the last of three individual berths in the state tournament, making her one of 10 freshmen to qualify to compete at University Ridge.

Her 84 included a 39 on the back nine at Prairie du Chien CC. She had six pars and three bogeys on that side.

Shot of the week

Stat of the week

Participation. WIAA postseason participation numbers continued to climb toward pre-COVID levels this fall with 767 golfers teeing it up at last week's regionals. That is up from 758 golfers last season but down from the 780 golfers who teed it up in 2019 regional play.

Of the 767 golfers, 316 were seniors, 220 were juniors, 152 were sophomores and 79 were freshmen.

In Division 1, there were 474 golfers (down slightly from the 478 a year ago) while 293 golfers teed it up in Division 2, which is up from 280 a year ago. It is the second year in a row that Division 1 totals are down and Division 2 is up.

There were several participation trends that reflected the struggle to field girls golf teams in some areas.

Ten schools (four in Division 1, six in Division 2) fielded incomplete teams during regional play while 12 schools (seven in Division 1, five in Division 2) played with just four players in the lineup. Moreover, six teams (one in Division 1, five in Division 2) opted out of the postseason even before it began.

Prediction machine

Predictably ... exciting. Given the wild and wacky that punctuated this week's WIAA sectional action, it's equally wild and wacky that I saw most of it coming. I batted .667 or better in three of the four prediction categories this week, led by an 11-for-12 showing (92%) in forecasting Division 1 teams to make it to University Ridge GC in Madison. I also nailed two-thirds of the Division 1 individual qualifiers (12-for-18) and the Division 2 team qualifiers (4-for-6), slipping only in the Division 2 individual category where I only projected five of the nine state qualifiers (55%).

Crossing the tees

Although Brookfield Central's streak of state tournament appearances ends at 12 in a row, senior Anna Gosenheimer advancing individually kept alive another significant streak for the Lancers. They have been represented at the WIAA state tournament every year since 2000 with Tricia Mark (2009) and Cheryl Treadwell (2001) advancing individually the two other years they did not qualify since 2000. ... Defending team champions Westosha Central (Division 1) and Prescott (Division 2) are trying to become the first teams to win back-to-back state girls golf titles in the same year since Mequon Homestead (Division 1) and Madison Edgewood (Division 2) in 2011 and '12. ... Defending individual champs Riley Pechinski of Stevens Point (Division 1) and Ava Salay of Prescott (Division 2) can become the first duo to repeat as state champions since Glendale Nicolet's Tory Bauman (Division 1) and Osceola's Lindsay Danielson (Division 2) in 2007.

rob@killarneygolfmedia.com

Rob started covering the state's golf scene in 1987 at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison. He joined Killarney Golf Media in 2015 and helped develop Wisconsin.Golf's extensive coverage of junior, high school, college, amateur and pro golf.

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