If the 38 high schools playing girls golf during the WIAA's alternate fall season this spring were to be seeded, Middleton and Bay Port would no doubt make strong arguments for the No. 1 seeds in their respective areas of the state.
It was purely coincidental, but assignments for the modified state tournament series released Wednesday give both schools a clear path to square off May 17 and 18 at the WIAA state tournament on the Meadow Valleys Course at Blackwolf Run in Kohler.
Middleton, the 2019 WIAA Division 1 state champion, and Bay Port each will play host to a sectional, according to the assignments posted to the WIAA website. Bay Port will top a 19-team sectional that features 12 schools from the Fox Valley, three schools from the Madison area, two schools from Eau Claire and one from the La Crosse area. Middleton's sectional features 19 schools from the Badger, Big Eight and Rock Valley conferences.
The WIAA awarded sectional hosting opportunities to the top seeds in many of its winter sports tournaments due to COVID-19 protocols.
"They both just happened to be the first teams to ask to host," WIAA assistant director Tom Shafranski told Wisconsin.Golf. "Since we had no hosts arranged, we granted them this opportunity."
Regional sites have not been finalized, Shafranski said. He said one regional in the Bay Port sectional will likely be awarded to Sheboygan North/South and one in the Middleton sectional will probably be awarded to Janesville Craig.
As expected, the state tournament qualifying format for the alternate season will reflect the one used last fall when more than 75 percent of the WIAA's girls golf schools played in the traditional season. The top four teams from each regional and the top three individuals not on those teams will advance to the two sectionals with the top two teams and top three individuals at that level earning the opportunity to compete at the state tournament in Kohler.
Regular-season play for the alternate season began last Thursday and has been aided by unseasonably warm weather this spring. Shafranski said that he has seen "leaf growth and grass growth" in the Stevens Point area, a good sign that — with the traditional boys season to follow the alternate girls season — the WIAA will get the cooperation it needs from the weather to pull off the unprecedented back-to-back golf seasons caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As long as we maintain good weather and good driving, everything looks positive to have a good girls golf season this early in the spring," he said.