BEST OF THE AREA
PRE-SEASON AREA RANKINGS
3, Janesville Parker
4, Madison Edgewood
8, Sun Prairie
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Taylor Hakala, sr., Milton: Hakala is a Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin second team all-state performer from 2017 who wound up in 15th place at the WIAA Division 1 state meet with a two-day total of 160. Hakala finished third in the sectional with a 7-over 79, and was a one shot out of a playoff at the Badger South Conference meet after shooting 73. She was named to the all-conference first team.
Grace Welch, jr., Madison Edgewood: Welch has a pair of top five individual finishes at the state meet. She finished third in 2016 and fifth in 2017. Welch was a first team all-conference recipient.
Samantha Soulier, sr., Waunakee: Shot 83 to finish second at the Badger North Conference meet in 2017 en route to being named a first team all-conference player. Soulier finished tied for 20th at state a year ago with a two-day total of 166.
Kate Meier, jr., Middleton: Finished tied for 23rd at state in 2017 with a two-day total of 168 and was a first team all-Big Eight Conference performer. Meier was a contributor on the Cardinals team that took home the Big Eight team title.
Sophia Dooman, sr., Janesville Parker: Finished in 32nd-place at state a season ago with a two-day total of 174 and was a first team all-conference recipient.
Caitlyn Ott, jr., Verona: An honorable mention all-conference performer in 2017 and key cog on the Wildcats team that shot 351 at the conference meet to finish in second place, two shots behind Middleton.
Kallie Lux, so., Janesville Craig: Tied for fourth individually in the conference meet in 2017, shooting 85, and was on the second team all-conference list.
Ashlyn Burdick, sr., Janesville Parker: Member of a Vikings team that reached the sectional level after finishing second in its regional. Burdick was a second team all-Big Eight performer.
Claudia Seeman, jr., Milton: A first team all-Badger South pick who finished fourth in her regional with a 9-over 80 and also tied for fifth at the conference meet. Seeman was on the Red Hawks team that finished second behind Hartland Arrowhead in the Division 1 state meet.
Middleton is expected to remain at the top of the standings after winning the conference championship last year and posting a perfect record in league meets. The Cardinals bring back juniors Kate Meier and Makenzie Hodson from a team that won regional and sectional titles in 2017 before finishing eighth at state. Middleton will add depth to its lineup with an incoming freshman group that includes Milanne Dahmen, Ellie Frisch and Karlye Kriewaldt.
Janesville Parker is best positioned to dethrone Middleton in the conference. The Vikings bring back senior Sophia Dooman, who was an honorable mention all-state performer and individual state qualifier in 2017. Ashlyn Burdick, a senior team captain, was a second-team all-conference picklast season.
Verona needs to replace four starters from a team that finished second in conference. Third-year coach Jon Rebholz will rely on junior Caitlyn Ott, who was an honorable mention all-conference performer last season. Despite the roster turnover, Rebholz expects the Wildcats to remain competitive and have a deep roster. Senior Nicole Thomas already has emerged as a team leader.
Sun Prairie returns all but one player from last year’s team that finished fourth in conference. New coach Shana Tiltrum will have three upperclassmen back in the fold, including senior Morgan Jambard and junior Olivia Oehrlein.
Janesville Craig has the type of team assembled to challenge for a top-three spot in the conference. Sophomore Kallie Lux and junior Sara Nerad will lead the way for the Cougars. Lux was an honorable mention all-conference pick in 2017.
Madison West will be led by senior Lillian Knetter, a second-team all-conference performer a season ago who has had a strong summer and start to the season. Last year’s team qualified for the sectional meet, shooting 350 to finish in second place at regionals.
Madison Memorial will return four of its top five players, including No. 1 sophomore Bridget McCarthy, who qualified for sectionals in 2017. Look for improvement from No. 2 player Jilli Newman, who has had a busy offseason.
Madison La Follette has only two returnees for 10th-year coach Nancy Seymour but freshman Angelina Myhr, a product of the First Tee of South Central Wisconsin program, is expected to make a quick impact. Kylie Chandler and Rachel Bautz are back from a season ago, and the Lancers should have a complete team lineup this season.
Madison East and Beloit Memorial often field incomplete lineups.
Milton will experience change this season as head coach Kirk Wieland has turned the program over to former standout golfer Ashton Stair and Bryce Farnsworth. The Red Hawks will need to replace individual state champion Mia Seeman, who graduated after leading the Red Hawks to a runner-up state finish. Taylor Hakala returns after a junior season that saw her nearly claim the WPGA/Edgewood Invitational with a 1-under par 71 and earned named first-team all-conference honors. Look for junior Claudia Seeman to help fill the void left by departures.
Stoughton is positioned for another strong showing after finishing second in 2017. Second-year coach Stephen Stokes has the luxury of returning his entire top five. Sophomore Caylie Kotlowski was a second-team all-conference selection. Senior Bre Viken is a three-time letterwinner for the Vikings, who should push Madison Edgewood and Milton in the conference race.
Madison Edgewood returns four regulars from a squad that finished runner-up to La Crosse Aquinas in last year's Division 2 state meet. Grace Welch will be the Crusaders’ No. 1 player this season. Welch finished in fifth place at state in 2017 after having a share of the 18-hole lead. 16th-year coach Peggy Gierhart expects junior Anaka Leske to have a breakout season. Despite a fourth-place showing in the deep league last year, Edgewood is poised to battle Milton and Stoughton for the championship.
Oregon will benefit from the return of seniors Sydney McKee and Allie Payne, who were the fence about rejoining the team but have done so. McKee, Payne and Alyssa Schmidt give the Panthers a formidable trio that should compete with the top teams in the conference.
Monona Grove will rely on senior Klairissa O'Reilly-Dye, who shot a 10-over 82 to qualify for state in 2017. O'Reilly-Dye finished in a tie for 25th at state. First-year coach Matthew Andringa takes over a Silver Eagles team that finished fifth in the conference meet after shooting 394 a season ago.
Fort Atkinson needs to replace its top golfer from 2017 as Kaitlyn Schneider was lost to graduation. A season ago the Blackhawks won a 3-for-1 playoff against Janesville Craig and Burlington to reach sectionals. Miranda Aalto is slated to be the No. 1 player for Fort Atkinson.
Watertown is scheduled to bring back four of its top five players from a squad that finished seventh place in the conference meet last year. Andrea Tietz and Nia Fredrich are two players to watch for the Goslings.
Waunakee returns all five players from its lineup in 2017 when the Warriors claimed the league championship. Waunakee advanced to sectionals and Sam Soulier, a senior, finished 20th as an individual at state. Soulier will use that experience to lead a deep Warriors lineup. Juniors Brooke Ehle and Carsen Genda will be competitive on a Waunakee team that also adds 11 freshmen to the mix.
Beaver Dam is poised to be the top challenger to Waunakee in the league. The Golden Beavers return their entire top five from a season ago after finishing second in the conference meet. Kendra Swanson returns to lead the way after being named a first-team all-conference player in 2017.
DeForest has the luxury of an experienced team in the third year of its golf program. Senior’s Cassidy Schnell and Lynzy Schnell, and junior Isabel Manzetti each qualified for sectionals last year. Finding a reliable fourth score will be crucial to the Norskies' success.
Reedsburg will rely on four players with varsity experience from a team that finished tied for fifth at the conference tournament in 2017. Juniors Anna Krieski and Kaitlyn Brunken will be at the top of a balanced lineup, and newcomers Julia Korklewski and Grace Benish could make a quick impact.
Portage welcomes back three golfers from its 2017 lineup. Sophomore Sophie Denure and senior three-year letterwinner Anna Davidson will be prominent players.
Baraboo is tasked with replacing four players from its starting lineup including last year’s No. 2 player, Elise Lewison. The burden will be eased by the return of Carly Moon, who was a first team all-conference player in 2017.
Mount Horeb has three returning letterwinners from a team that finished seventh in conference. Sophomores Ellie Lombardo and Ryleigh McMahan will occupy the top two lineup spots, and incoming freshmen Lilli Ryan and Emily Wallace will be in the mix for varsity spots.
McFarland will look to three-year letterwinner and sectional qualifier Nikki Stubbe to lead the group. The Spartans have a roster that relies on strength in numbers, with up to 15 players in the mix.
Jefferson loses individual state qualifier Alexa Owen and fellow graduate Hailey Hotter from a team that shot 402 to win the conference meet last season.
Edgerton is scheduled to bring back four of its five players from a squad that reached sectionals a season ago. Mali Kruckenberg and Makenzie Suhr are players to keep an eye on.
Lakeside Lutheran will return a team with varsity experience. Sophomore Maya Heckmann, last season’s No. 1 player, qualified for the sectional as an individual. Seniors Maddison Fenner and Rebecca Lang will round out a balanced attack for the Warriors.
Cambridge returns its starting five from 2017, which includes No. 1 player and individual sectional qualifier Aubrie Pero. Juniors Hailee Sundquist and Mary Hommen will round out the Blue Jays’ lineup.
Wisconsin Dells will rely on senior Allison Anderson and Maura Alvarez this season. Other returnees looking to build on last’s year experience include Kayla Gray and Riley Lange.
DATES TO WATCH
Thursday: Milton Invitational at Oak Ridge Golf Course, Milton. A tournament that has eight local teams trying to top the Red Hawks on their home course. Janesville Parker is another team competing with a strong lineup.
Mon., Aug. 20: Waunakee Invitational at The Meadows of Sixmile Creek GC, Waunakee. A Big Eight-heavy field at a difficult venue — especially if the winds blow. Middleton, Verona and Hartland Arrowhead are among the favorites.
Wed., Aug. 22: Badger South Conference dual, Madison Edgewood vs. Stoughton at Coachman’s GC, Stoughton. An early meet that could having lasting implications on how the conference race pans out. Both teams return a majority of their lineups from competitive teams in 2017.
Thurs. Aug. 23: Watertown Invitational at Watertown CC. Badger South foes Madison Edgewood, Oregon and Fort Atkinson are set to compete on this tree-lined course. Wales Kettle Moraine, which finished fifth at state in 2017, will compete as well.
Mon., Aug. 27: Madison Edgewood Invitational at Maple Bluff CC. This event is Madison Edgewood’s ninth annual Crusade Fore A Cure tournament that will benefit breast cancer and melanoma research at the Carbone Cancer Center. The lineup features primarily area schools in addition to Franklin, which finished fourth at state a season ago.
Fri., Aug. 31: Big Eight Conference triangular at Riverside Golf Course, Janesville. This meet that could well determine who winds up winning the dual-meet portion of the conference race. Janesville Parker, poised for a strong season, will host defending league champion Middleton and Madison La Follette.
Wed., Sept. 5: Madison Memorial Invitational at Blackhawk CC. A meet featuring predominantly teams from the Big Eight and Badger conferences at a narrow venue. Middleton, Milton and Stoughton should be top challengers.
Sat., Sept. 8: Middleton Invitational at Pleasant View GC, Middleton. A 19-team tournament with talented area teams like Madison Edgewood and Waunakee. The event will also attract quality teams from the Milwaukee area and La Crosse.
Sat., Sept. 15: Janesville Parker Invitational at Riverside GC. A field consisting of primarily area teams that will be looking to fine tune their games before conference tournament play. Look for Janesville Parker, Milton and Madison Edgewood to vie for the crown.
Big Eight: Thurs., Sept. 20, at Evansville GC.
Badger North and South: Tue., Sept. 18, at The Oaks GC, Cottage Grove.
Rock Valley: Tues., Sept. 18, at Riverside GC, Janesville.
Regionals: Wed.-Thu., Sept. 26-27, various locations.
Sectionals: Mon.-Wed., Oct. 1-3, various locations.
State: Mon.-Tue., Oct. 8-9, University Ridge Golf Course.