D2 - Kiernan Smith, Northwestern

Kiernan Smith, Northwestern

Looking back

2018 conference champion

Seniors Emily Neff, Ally King and Abi Robbins finished 1-2-4 as Hayward shot 356 and topped Ladysmith (394) by 38 shots to win the Heart O'North Conference Championship at Nemadji Golf Course in Superior.

2018 conference medalist

Hayward senior Emily Neff shot matching 38s on the front and back nines at Nemadji GC in Superior to shoot 76 and top teammate Ally King by seven shots to earn medalist honors at the Heart O'North Conference Championship.

Top 2018 WIAA finishes

Team: Hayward shot 400-380 at the WIAA Division 2 state tournament and, with a 36-hole total of 780, finished third, 121 shots behind champion Madison Edgewood. Individual: Hayward senior Emily Neff shot 86-79 at the Division 2 state tournament and, with a 36-hole total of 165, finished sixth, 13 shots behind champion Clair Phakamad of Appleton Xavier (78-74).

Looking ahead

Preseason top three

Maple Northwestern, Spooner, Superior.

Preseason all-conference

First team: Naomi McLennan, jr., Superior;  Kaitlyn Schott, jr., Ladysmith; Kiernan Smith, sr., Maple Northwestern; Mary Smith, sr., Hayward; Jackie Wallin, jr., Ladysmith; 

Second team: Molly Arf, so., Spooner; Claire Bartlett, so., Barron; Greta Lund, sr., Luck/Frederic/Unity; Morgan Susedik, jr., Ladysmith; McKenzie Tuura, jr., Maple Northwestern; Danielle Westholm, sr., Chetek-Weyerhaeuser.

What to watch

Maple Northwestern is in much the same position Hayward was a year ago, when the Hurricane stormed to another Heart O'North Conference title and ultimately finished third at the WIAA Division 2 state tournament. The Tigers, who also made it to University Ridge for the first time since 2005, bring back the conference's top returning golfer in Kiernan Smith, who finished seventh overall in her state debut, and two other players off that team that finished last in the six-team field at the state championship. Tigers coach Scott Janigo believes Smith and a host of promising freshmen and sophomores should give Northwestern a big boost in its bid to stay ahead of teams with solid depth — namely Superior and Spooner, which — after a couple of lean years in which it struggled to field a full team — appears to be back at full strength. Ladysmith and Barron could be a factor in the chase for the team title by the end of the season, but all four of Northwestern's closest pursuers lack a golfer up front that can match Smith. Hayward, meanwhile, has a new coach in Wade Reier and looks to be experiencing the same kind of rebuilding pains Spooner has the past two years. "We have a small group of girls this year, but theirs hearts and love for the game are huge!" Reier said.

Circle these dates

Sept. 5 — Barron, Luck/Unity at Hayward (Hayward GC); Ladysmith, Spooner at Chetek/Weyerhaeuser (Sioux Creek GC-Chetek). Sept. 10 — Hayward, Superior at Ladysmith (Tee-High GC-Ladysmith); Barron, Maple Northwestern at Chetek-Weyerhaeuser (Sioux Creek GC-Chetek); Luck/Unity, Spooner at Cumberland (Cumberland GC). Sept. 11 — Superior Invitational (Nemadji GC-Superior). Sept. 16 — Maple Northwestern, Spooner at Hayward (Hayward GC); Barron, Ladysmith at Cumberland (Cumberland GC).  Sept. 17 — Chetek/Weyerhaeuser, Luck/Unity at Superior (Nemadji GC-Superior). Sept. 19 — Cumberland, Hayward at Chetek/Weyerhaeuser (Sioux Creek GC-Chetek); Ladysmith, Maple Northwestern at Luck/Unity (Luck GC); Spooner, Superior at Barron (Barron's Rolling Oaks GC). Sept. 23 — Cumberland, Superior at Maple Northwestern (Botten's Green Acres GC-Lake Nebagamon); Barron, Hayward at Luck/Unity (Luck GC); Chetek/Weyerhaeuser, Ladysmith at Spooner (Spooner GC). Sept. 25 — Heart O'North Conference Championship (Barron's Rolling Oaks GC-Barron).