No one could blame Michael Henry for putting his golf game on the back burner.
The Janesville Parker senior had other priorities earlier this spring, including finishing off an academic career that saw him announced as valedictorian Wednesday night.
One day later, Henry showed that his game might be rounding into form just before graduation. Henry and senior teammates Matt Zimmerman and Spencer Orley all carded rounds of 7-over-par 79 at Evansville Golf Club on Thursday, tying for fourth individually and helping Parker take second place at the Big Eight Conference meet.
“The greens were a lot quicker than we’ve had in a long time, but it was fun to be out there,” Henry said. “Over the past four years (at Evansville), this is probably the best we’ve played here as a team.”
Verona took the team title by shooting 317. Parker was just three shots back, and Middleton (324), Sun Prairie (344) and Janesville Craig (349) rounded out the top five.
Verona’s Garhett Kaegi was medalist by three strokes, shooting an ever-par 72. Middleton’s Andy Zucker (75) was second. Craig sophomore Dan Thomsen finished eighth with an 80.
It was a confidence-boosting round for the Vikings, who finished fourth in the conference dual-meet standings.
And Thursday’s round was critical for Henry. He knew he had been striking the ball better, and it showed in his score, which included a back-nine 37 that ended with a birdie on the par-four 18th.
“I was traveling a lot (earlier this year), and golf was relatively low on my priority list,” Henry said. “Now I’m getting back into it. And at a good time here at the end of my senior year.”
Sophomore Kadin Kleman had Parker’s fourth counting score, an 83.
Craig’s Connor Kelly joined Thomsen in the 80s with an 86.
The two city teams, along with Badger, Beloit Memorial, Burlington, Elkhorn, Fort Atkinson and Milton, play in the WIAA Division 1 regional hosted by Badger at Geneva National on Wednesday. The top four teams advance to the Parker Sectional.
“I realize it’s great to be around my friends, especially the ones in golf that have encouraged me the last four years,” Henry said. “Hopefully we’ve got three more matches and four more rounds left, if we can make it to state.”
Big Eight Conference Meet
at Evansville Golf Club (par 72)
Verona 317, Janesville Parker 320, Middleton 324, Sun Prairie 344, Janesville Craig 349, Beloit Memorial 360, Madison Memorial 367, Madison West 367, Madison La Follette 372
Garhett Kaegi (Ver) 72, Andy Zucker (Mid) 75, Austin Gaby (Ver) 78, Michael Henry (JP) 79, Matt Zimmerman (JP) 79, Spencer Orley (JP) 79, Silas Pickhadt (MM) 79, Dan Thomsen (JC) 80
CITY TEAM SCORES
Parker—Matt Zimmerman 79, Spencer Orley 79, Michael Henry 79, Kadin Klemen 83, Nik Sitter 84.
Craig—Dan Thomsen 80, Connor Kelly 86, Anthony Schrader 91, Skyler Mashek 92, Kade Salemi 96.