D2 (2) Ava Salay Prescott 2.jpg

Ava Saley | Prescott | 2019 WIAA Girls Championship | 2nd place

DIVISION 2: TEAM QUALIFIERS

School State
berth
Last
berth
Best
finish
Sectional
score
Skinny
Madison Edgewood 23rd 2019 1st-2019, 2018, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011,
2009, 2008, 2007,
2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001
341 Graduated 2019 state champ Grace Welch, return three from repeat state championship team
Freedom 1st None Sectional 4th-2016, 2014 374 Junior Callie Berg qualified for state in 2019 as a sectional champion & finished T17 (97-96)
Lakeside Lutheran 1st None Sectonal 3rd-2019 363 Senior Maya Heckmann (T11) & sophomore sister Ava (T17) qualified individually in 2019
Prescott 2nd 2019 2nd-2019 349 Return four golfers off 2019 state runner-up team led by individual runner-up Ava Salay (81-85)
St. Croix Central 3rd 2019 3rd-2019 371 Three golfers return off 2019 team that placed third at state, led by junior Sally Vangsness (T6)
The Prairie School (Racine) 8th 2016 1st-2016, 2015, 2010 358 All four golfers return from 2019 sectional team (sixth) where none of four broke 100

DIVISION 2: INDIVIDUAL QUALIFIERS

School Name, year State
berth
Last
berth
Best
finish
Sectional
score
Skinny
Arcadia/Independence Hallie Tulip, Jr. 2nd 2018 22nd-2018 state 89 Her 94 at 2018 sectional helped Raiders force playoff with Edgerton for final team state berth (Arcadia won 24-25)
Catholic Memorial (Waukesha) Ashley Stanislawski, Sr. 2nd 2017 11th-2017 state 89 Missed qualifying for Div. 1 state berths by five shots in 2019 & six shots in 2018 after qualifying in Div. 2 in 2017
Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran Faith Flynn, Sr. 1st 2x sectional qualifier T20-2019 sectional 87 Started girls team after playing on boys team as freshman & sophomore before losing junior season to COVID-19
Ladysmith Jackie Wallin, Sr. 1st 4x sectional qualifier T12-2018 sectional 92 Bounced back from a 102 at Maple Northwestern regional to earn first state berth in four sectional appearances
Lancaster Brianna Kirsch, Fr. 1st NA First-year varsity 88 Missed rescheduled SWAL/SWC mini-meet & WIAA regional after placing 4th at SWAL/SWC Championship with a 97
Lancaster Morgan Cooley, Sr. 1st 2x sectional qualifier T8-2018 sectional 88 Helped team survive 448-450 scare from Darlington at regional so she & Kirsch would have opportunity at state berth
Regis (Eau Claire)/Altoona Lydia Jensen, So. 1st NA First-year varsity 87 Shook off 106 at CloverCroix Championship & 101 at WIAA regional to qualify first individually at Rice Lake sectional
Regis (Eau Claire)/Altoona Elli Anderson, So. 1st 2x sectional qualifier T33-2019 sectional 92 Division 1 sectional qualifier as a freshman; placed second to sister Emma at 2020 CloverCroix Championship (89)
Xavier (Appleton) Lauren Haen, Sr. 4th 2019 T8-2018 state 81 Has qualified for state twice individually and twice with her team; has two top-10 state tournament finishes (T9 in 2019)

WHEN, WHERE

Monday: 8:30a.m. (off No. 1). Tuesday: 8:30 a.m. (off No. 10).

Where: Blackwolf Run/Meadow Valleys Course-Kohler

Tee times: Monday's first round | Tuesday's second round

COVID-19 spectator guidelines: Spectators are limited to five individuals from the immediate family of the golfer participating in the tournament. They should practice social distancing between different household units and accept personal responsibility for public health guidelines and remain at least 15 yards from the players.

2019 STORY

Kudos abound as Madison Edgewood, senior Grace Welch sweep Division 2 state titles

MADISON — Chad Salay and his Prescott girls golf team were newbies to the WIAA state tournament, but the Cardinals coach knew the drill when it came to handing out praise after the Division 2 awards.

Tip your cap to Madison Edgewood and look ahead to next year.

Prescott became the 10th different school to finish second to the powerhouse Crusaders, who rolled to their 15th WIAA state championship on a cold, cloudy and increasingly breezy day at University Ridge Golf Course. In winning its 13th Division 2 state title, Edgewood shot a final-round 355 to finish off a 71-stroke victory over the Cardinals, who held off Middle Border Conference rival St. Croix Central by 17 strokes to walk away with the runner-up trophy.

It marked only the second time in their 15 triumphs at University Ridge that Edgewood won with a score greater than 700. However, it was also only the fifth time that a Crusaders championship team included the state medalist.

Senior Grace Welch closed out a wire-to-wire victory with a final-round 82 and a 14-over-par 158 total, giving her an eight-shot victory over Prescott's Ava Salay (85). Osseo-Fairchild/Fall Creek senior Ariel Heuer, who spent the last three years on the Fall Creek boys team, finished another shot back at 167.

"I followed Grace back (as a freshman) and it's been fun to see her get over the hump and win the state title," Chad Salay said of Welch, who had two third-place finishes and a fifth over the last three years. "I would've like to have had my player win, but (Welch) has been so close. I'm happy for her."

Welch checked all the boxes for a successful week except one: She didn't break 80 both days, firing a pair of 41s that featured two double-bogeys, seven bogeys and just one birdie on a course with challenging hole locations and fast greens on a day that began with a 30-minute lightning delay.

Welch, who began the day with a five-shot lead on Ava Salay, stretched it to eight by the turn despite three bogeys and one double on the front. The UW-Green Bay recruit played her first six holes on the front nine in 2-over and never looked back, as only two other golfers finished within 10 shots of her.

"I'm a little upset I didn't break 80 both days, but I have no reason to really be upset when my team pulled through and we won and I got to win the individual title," said Welch, who felt the confidence she gleaned from three previous trips to state thrust her to the top this time. "This year, it was more realistic that I could win it.  I was much more confident this year than I was in years past. I think I'm a different golfer than I was last year at this time.

"Going into state this year, I had a better feeling I could pull through with it." 

Likewise, her teammates didn't panic even though conditions were tougher and their winning score was 43 shots higher than the one they posted in 2018.

The Crusaders were the only team among the six in the Division 2 field to have all five golfers break 100 both days. On Tuesday, they counted an 88 from junior Caitlyn Hegenbarth, a 91 from senior Anaka Leske and a 94 from junior Grace Jaeger, tossing out a 95 from freshman Allyssa Thao as all five Edgewood golfers finished among the top 20 in the 39-player field.

"It was survival mode, for sure, from start-to-finish," Edgewood coach Peggy Gierhart said. "The weather was cold. The course played difficult. And the greens were super-fast. It was sort of a different mentality for them. They were kind of protective and they really needed to start to loosen up and play more aggressively against the wind and things like that. It worked out well.

"They hung in there and you just can't have the same par in your mind then. You have to think that bogeys and double (bogeys) are sometimes a good score, which is how it was — especially on the last nine here (Tuesday)."

That was among the many things Prescott learned in its first trip to state.

Like Edgewood, the Cardinals graduate their No. 1 golfer in Alexis Fredericks. But they bring back five other girls who made the trip to Madison — led by Ava Salay, who earned Middle Border Conference player-of-the-year honors.

"We've looked at that," Salay said. "The thing is, Edgewood is going to come back. They're going to rebuild. They're always there. We're just looking at hopefully a long run of a good rivalry with them. It'll be fun next few years.

"Next few and beyond because we've got some young girls playing, too."

2020 SKINNY

Prescott poised to finally make WIAA Division 2 gold trophy public domain

The WIAA added a second division to its girls golf tournament format in 2003, in part, to give its smaller schools and smaller communities greater representation during the tournament series.

In the 17 years that followed, the WIAA's critics are always quick to point out, its Division 2 state champions have represented Madison (13 times), Racine (three times) and La Crosse (once). Moreover, none of those champions have come from the public-school ranks. 

Edgewood's state championship history

The years Madison Edgewood has won its record 15 WIAA state girls golf championships, over which team and by how much:


Year Winning
score
Runner-up Runner-up
score
Margin
2019 702 Prescott 773 71
2018 659 Appleton Xavier 719 60
2014 659 Fox Valley Luth. 715 56
2013 681 Fox Valley Luth. 702 21
2012 674 Racine Prairie 675 1
2011 646 Racine Prairie 691 45
2009 628 Edgerton 738 110
2008 617 Arcadia/CFC 737 120
2007 634 Amery 695 61
2006 667 St. Croix Falls 691 24
2005 720 St. Croix Falls 748 28
2004 693 Osseo-Fairchild 749 56
2003 687 Osseo-Fairchild 792 105
*2002 665 Middleton 700 35
*2001 697 Middleton 705 8
* = Single division

That could very well change Monday and Tuesday at Blackwolf Run in Kohler.

Edgewood is back in the state tournament for a 23rd time (and its 17th time in 18 years of the Division 2 field). However, the Crusaders go into the 36-hole event as considerable underdogs to 2019 state runner-up Prescott, which is looking to become the first public school to mine Division 2 gold.

The Cardinals return four of the five golfers off a team that finished 71 strokes behind Edgewood at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison. However, in qualifying for the opportunity to make the 4-hour, 51-minute drive to Kohler, Prescott shot regional (339) and sectional (349) scores that were 40 and 41 strokes better, respectively, than the same legs of the journey to its inaugural state tournament appearance in 2019.

The Cardinals have a medalist threat in sophomore Ava Salay, who finished second a year ago. But Prescott also has three other golfers (sophomore Rhi Stutz and juniors Liz Rohl and Jessica Heinsch) capable of breaking 90 and a fifth (Maddie Reiter) who will be there with a sub-100 score if any of the others were to struggle.

"I couldn’t be more excited!" Cardinals coach Chad Salay wrote in a text to Wisconsin.Golf after winning the Rice Lake sectional. "I know Blackwolf is a very tough course. I’ve played it (the girls have not) so we have already been talking up how fun it’s going to be to play one of the nicest courses in (Wisconsin)! We continue to improve and there has been no complacency shown in this group."

Edgewood still has a decided advantage on the field in experience.

Seniors Caitlyn Hegenbarth and Grace Jaeger will be teeing it up in their fourth state tournament. They played their way into the varsity lineup as freshmen in 2017, when Edgewood finished second to La Crosse Aquinas at University Ridge the year after it failed to qualify for the only time in the two-division era. They have since played on back-to-back state championship teams — No. 14 and 15 in program history.

Hegenbarth has finished in the top 10 in each of her three state appearances, finishing eighth a year ago (87-88) after her best finish (fifth) in 2018 when she shot 84-75. Jaeger has finished in the top 15 in each of her three previous trips to state, placing 15th last year (87-88) after besting Hegenbarth in 2018 when she shot 82-76 and finished a career-best tied for third.

Each has played her best golf of the season in the postseason and will need to continue that trend at Blackwolf Run for Edgewood to contend without defending state champion Grace Welch — now at UW-Green Bay — to lean on. Hegenbarth earned medalist honors at the Prairie du Chien regional (86) before finishing second to Lakeside Lutheran's Maya Heckmann (76) with a 77 at the Arcadia regional in Holmen. Jaeger, who shot 93 at the regional, finished third behind Heckmann and Hegenbarth at the sectional with an 82.

Racine Prairie School could be a factor in the chase for the team championship if Prescott and Edgewood falter.

The Prairie Hawks, who have won three Division 2 state titles, have not qualified for the state tournament since 2016 when they won the second of back-to-back titles. In fact, a year ago their season ended quietly with a sixth-place finish at the Xavier (Appleton) sectional to end a postseason in which they played with four golfers and counted just one sub-100 score (a 95 by then-freshman Sophie Lawler at the regional).

What a difference a year makes.

In 2020, The Prairie School has won both the regional (367) and the sectional (358) and hasn't counted a score higher than 96. The difference? Lawler has thrived in the No. 1 position — she shot 84 at the regional and 83 at the sectional — and allowed senior Emily Eitel to settle into the No. 2 spot. Freshman Kadyn Peery has been a welcome addition at the No. 4 spot in between junior Madeline Maraccini and Sarah Fosbinder, who have both made significant strides from last season.

Individually, Salay is one of just three returning golfers who finished in the top 10 at last year's state tournament. One of the others, however, is St. Croix Central junior Sally Vangsness, who edged Salay by one shot to win the St. Croix Central regional, a reminder that anything goes in the WIAA postseason — especially during this strange, COVID-impacted 2020 season at a last-minute state tournament venue few in the field have ever played.

However, the quest for history with her team could be enough to keep Salay's focus on the shot at hand.

"We all want the same thing and know the work that needs to go in to possibly making that happen," Chad Salay, her coach and father, wrote. "The best part is that this group is all great friends and when you have the talent that they have to go along with that, it makes trips like this all the more fun to be a part of."

PROJECTED TOP THREE TEAMS

1) Prescott; 2) Edgewood (Madison); 3) The Prairie School (Racine). 

PROJECTED TOP THREE INDIVIDUALS

1) Ava Salay, Prescott; 2) Lauren Haen, Xavier (Appleton); 3) Maya Heckmann, Lakeside Lutheran (Lake Mills).

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