Everything went according to script for Janesville Parker’s boys golf team Tuesday.
Sam Van Galder predicted before the season started that his talented team would take advantage of playing at the Janesville Country Club and win the sectional meet, and the Vikings backed up their first-year coach’s premonition.
Senior Matt Zimmerman fired a 3-over-par 75 to lead the Vikings to the WIAA Division 1 Parker Sectional team title. Parker finished with a 331 total, nine shots ahead of runner-up Lake Geneva Badger, which also qualified for next week’s state meet at University Ridge in Madison. Milton finished third at 343, Monona Grove fourth at 344 and Janesville Craig sixth with 360.
Monona Grove’s Jake Schroekenthaler was medalist with a 1-over 73, and he will be joined at state by individual qualifiers Zak Kulka (78) of Beaver Dam and Milton’s Tucker Dunk (79).
In making its first trip to state since winning a sectional title in 2012, Parker pulled away from the field thanks to a 12-stroke improvement on the back nine.
“We were up-and-down that front nine, but we really played well on the back nine,” Van Galder said. “Kadin (Kleman) was six shots better on the back nine, and that was huge.
“This was the vision I had when I realized that the sectional meet was at the Country Club. We’ve played a lot of golf here, and for those teams that don’t get to play here very often, it can be a very tough course to play, especially on the greens where putting can be really tricky.”
Van Galder and tournament director and Parker athletic director John Zimmerman said the course was set up with a medium degree of difficulty, but you would probably have a hard time convincing the majority of the field of that.
Only five of the 48 golfers broke 80. Temperatures in the 90s didn’t help, either.
Zimmerman, a senior and Viterbo University recruit, had nines of 38 and 37 and would’ve tied Schroekenthaler for medalist honors had he not bogeyed 17 and 18. He wasn’t too concerned, however, knowing he’ll end his prep career at the state tournament with his teammates.
“This is a storybook ending for us, no doubt about it,” Matt Zimmerman said. “Our mindset coming in wasn’t anything special. We just told ourselves that we had to shoot four decent scores to get through. None of us had to necessarily play great, but just come out and shoot like we knew we were capable of on this course.”
Besides Zimmerman’s 75, Parker got an 84 from senior Nik Sitter, and 86s from Kleman and senior Michael Henry.
Badger, which is ranked sixth in the state, qualified for state for the fourth straight season and eighth time in the last 12 years.
Although a runner-up finish was a bit of a letdown, head coach Dave DeShambo said the difficult Janesville Country Club course had a lot to do with it.
“This is a tough golf course, and we really haven’t been playing that well the last week or so,” DeShambo said. “It’s our finals week, and we have a lot of other things going on, too.
“You always set your goal to get there (state), and it doesn’t matter how you do it. So, we’re happy to get there, and now we’ve got two days and two rounds to prove ourselves, with some much needed practice rounds before then.”
Schroekenthaler earned medalist honors thanks to a 1-under 35 on the front nine. His consistently hit his driver more than 300 yards.
Dunk, a senior, had nines of 39 and 40 to earn a state berth.
The WIAA state tournament is Monday and Tuesday at University Ridge.
Division 1 Parker Sectional
At Janesville Country Club (Par 72)
Janesville Parker 331, Lake Geneva Badger 340, Milton 343, Monona Grove 344, Beaver Dam 359, Janesville Craig 360, Sun Prairie 363, Portage 365
1. Jake Schroekenthaler (Monona Grove), 73; 2. Matt Zimmerman (Parker), 75; 3. Zak Kluka (Beaver Dam), 78; 4. Tucker Dunk (Milton), 79; 5. Blake Wisdom (Badger), 79.
OTHER AREA TEAM RESULTS
Parker (331)—Nik Sitter, 84; Kadin Kleman, 86; Michael Henry, 86.
Badger (340)—Connor Duggan, 90; Ben Rademaker, 86; Carter Parent, 85.
Milton (343)—AJ Gray, 84; Ryan Nelson, 87; Michael Koppa, 93.
Craig (360)—Kade Salemi, 89; Dan Thomsen, 90; Anthony Schrader, 94; Connor Kelly, 87.
AREA INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
Nolan Shirk (Elkhorn), 87; Riley Jensen (Beloit Memorial), 99.