Milton leads area girls golf teams into season
The WIAA state girls golf tournament has become a near-annual tradition for Milton High's program.
The Red Hawks have advanced to state in six of the past seven years and have finished no lower than sixth place there in any of those seasons.
With four of five golfers returning from last year's team, which finished sixth at University Ridge outside Madison, Milton appears poised to make another run.
“We should be a pretty competitive team again,” coach Kirk Wieland said Monday on the first official day of practice.
Area teams, including Janesville Parker, Janesville Craig and Milton, begin their seasons with tournaments Thursday morning. Those teams play at Verona's invitational at Edelweiss Country Club. Elsewhere, Lake Geneva Badger hosts a season-opening tournament Thursday at Hawks View.
Milton is ranked No. 3 in the state in the preseason coaches poll.
“We've got four of our top five returning, so at least we'll be going into tournaments with a squad of players that has competed before and knows how the deal works,” Wieland said. “We just need to find another player or two to round out our top five and push the other girls for playing time.”
Senior Mia Seeman leads the Red Hawks into the 2017 season. The South Dakota State commit played a busy summer tournament schedule after finishing tied for fourth individually at state a year ago.
Junior Taylor Hakala finished in the top 25 at state in 2016 after placing 11th there as a freshman.
Sophomore Claudia Seeman got a year of valuable varsity of experience under her belt as a freshman. And senior Holly Gunnink rounds out Milton's four returning varsity players.
Wieland said a couple players will vie for the fifth spot, a competition that could extend through the season.
“Throughout the year, it (the mentality) is team, team, team, and if you take care of yourself, the team is going to be so much more successful, and it's going to be much more enjoyable that way,” Wieland said. “Mia played a full tournament schedule and practices all the time—it's not just daily, it's hourly. She's put in all the time to put herself in position to achieve all the individual goals she's probably set for herself.
“I'm sure Taylor is excited for the season, as well. Holly was very active at Oak Ridge this summer, so she'll be fine for her outlook on golf. And Claudia didn't play a lot of tournaments (this summer), either, but still played and practiced.”
One shift in the area Division 1 is the sectional setup. Kettle Moraine, a team receiving votes in the preseason coaches poll, joins the area teams along with Mukwonago and Waukesha playing through the Mukwonago Sectional after Janesville Craig hosts regional play.
Parker looking to reload
Janesville Parker finished two shots out of a sectional playoff last season when it was looking for its third-ever state tournament berth.
Four varsity players from that team graduated, leaving the Vikings looking to regroup.
Junior Sophia Dooman leads the way for Parker. She nearly qualified for state individually last year but lost in a playoff.
“It's all about growth, and that's what we're looking for,” Parker coach Mary Ross said. “Teams cycle through, and we're in that phase. It's unusual for us a little bit, but we're excited, too. We're excited to see what this group can do.”
Senior Lauren Reid joins Dooman as the team's captains. Junior Ashlyn Burdick, who saw some varsity action last season, and sophomore Bria McDade round out the lineup to start the year. The Vikings will be searching for a fifth player to join the mix.
The Vikings finished 7-2 and tied for second in the Big Eight Conference last year.
“Sophia played a lot of tournament golf this summer and has set some high goals for herself,” Ross said. “She's hungry and ready to lead and do well.
“We'll just go match-to-match and look for improvement.”
Cougars hope stability breeds success
Janesville Craig's senior golfers have the same coach two years in a row for the first time in their careers.
Cougars head coach Alex Schaar hopes that continuity helps the team build off a year in which it qualified for sectionals and finished with a 5-4 Big Eight mark.
“We have a lot of girls that are buying into the system and are working hard, so I'm really excited for the season,” Schaar said. “I've been waiting for it since last season ended.
“We've got a lot of girls out that are really focused on golf and have been putting a lot of time in.”
Senior Morgan Christoph played in the No. 3 spot last year behind a pair of seniors. She and sophomore Sara Nerad are the team's two returning varsity players.
Senior Maria Lynch has played in the program for four years and joins the varsity mix. Kallie Lux leads a solid freshman class at Craig and is expected to make an immediate impact.
The fifth spot remains up for grabs as the season begins.
“Morgan is our team captain and is very even-keeled on and off the course. She's been a really great player to have in terms of leadership,” Schaar said. “Sara really stepped up big last year. She's played a lot of junior PGA over the summer and really made some gains.”
Edgerton a contender in RVC
Edgerton's girls golf team returns four of its top five players, including junior Makenzie Suhr, a first-team all-Rock Valley Conference pick last year.
The Crimson Tide will attempt to track down Jefferson in the conference race. The Eagles have reigning conference player of the year Alexa Owen leading the way.