KOHLER – Following the game plan was the phrase of the day.
That, plus accurately placing shots, proved to be an effective strategy for Milton sophomore Hannah Dunk and the Middleton girls golf team on the first day of the WIAA’s alternate fall state tournament Monday at the Meadow Valleys Course at Blackwolf Run.
Dunk birdied three of her final four holes and shot a 1-over-par 73. Dunk was tied for the first-round lead with Bay Port senior Jo Baranczyk, who’s seeking a third consecutive title after winning the Division 1 individual title in 2018 and 2019.
“She couldn’t ask to be in a better spot,” Milton girls coach Brady Farnsworth said about Dunk. “We have a game plan and we are going to stick to the game plan, and, hopefully, at the end of the day (Tuesday) we are right where we want to be. I’m just so proud of her. … She played phenomenally today.”
Middleton senior Glenna Sanderson and junior Ellie Frisch each shot 3-over 75 and led the Cardinals to a 23-over 311 total.
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That gave Middleton, the Division 1 champion in 2019, a 10-shot lead over second-place Bay Port (321) entering Tuesday’s final round.
“That’s really exciting,” Sanderson said. “A big part of this is, as much as you want to do well, we want our whole team to do well.”
“They really pulled it into gear on the back nine,” said Middleton coach Becky Halverson, whose team was aided by sophomore Amanda Beckman’s birdie on No. 13, followed by freshman Vivian Cressman’s eagle on No. 13. “That was awesome. That definitely helped us. … That got them into their groove a little bit and they just kept on going with that.”
Dunk, in the second group, finished strong and was the leader in clubhouse until Baranczyk, in the final group, completed her round.
Dunk birdied Nos. 15 (from about 15 feet), 16 (10 feet) and 18 (10 feet), using her pitching wedge from 117 yards to set up the birdie on 18.
“I really wasn’t that nervous,” said Dunk, last week’s Middleton sectional medalist. “This is my last tournament (of the season), at state, and I just wanted to go out and have fun. And I wanted to play good.”
Dunk said she tried not to dwell on a bad shot and have it carry to the next hole.
“I struggled on my last few holes (of the front nine),” said Dunk, who was 2-over on the front nine (one birdie, three bogeys). “But I knew I had another nine. I just wanted to keep my attitude positive. I didn’t want to get anything in my head. I just knew I needed to play strong on the back nine.”
Farnsworth said Dunk placed her shots well and didn’t let a mistake turn into a big score.
“This specific course setup is an advantage for her because she hits the ball so deep — that she can put herself in spots,” Farnsworth said. “It really fits her comfort zone. It was getting her into the mindset that, `You just go and play the best you can and we’ll see where you are at after Day One.’ And if you told me it would be a 73, I would be just as happy as I am currently.
“Credit to her, she hit the shots. She handled adversity well all day. The moments where it could have turned into a double or a triple, she battled and she made the big-time putts that kept her right in there.”
Frisch was near the top of the leaderboard much of the day after a consistent round that she said included three bogeys and 15 pars.
“I, obviously, didn’t know where I was (on the leaderboard),” Frisch said. “I don’t like to know. Then it gets in my head. I just stuck to my game. I wasn’t playing amazing, but I wasn’t playing bad. It was just consistent golf, which was good.”
Frisch said the course is difficult, but it fits her style.
“It’s definitely more placement shots,” Frisch said. “You have to be very precise where you land the ball. It’s not necessarily about distance. I like placement shots. I’m usually pretty good at those, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Sanderson — who had three birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey — said she stayed calm and recovered well after the double bogey on the sixth hole.
“I’m super proud of them (Frisch and Sanderson),” Halverson said. “They have really focused on sticking to the game plan of hitting to the spots we had talked about and not veering off our plan. They really showed if they play it the way they have mentally prepared for it, it will go well for them.”
Twenty-six competitors, including four teams and six individual qualifiers, advanced to the two-day event, which was created by the WIAA as an accommodation for schools that elected not to play in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sheboygan North/South was third (340) and Janesville Craig (343) was fourth, led by freshman Mya Nicholson’s 76.
Stoughton senior Caylie Kotlowski shot 78 and Madison La Follette junior Angelina Myhr shot an 82.