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All-area girls golf: Edgewood's Grace Welch closes her prep career as a double champion

All-area girls golf: Edgewood's Grace Welch closes her prep career as a double champion

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Grace Welch went out on top, and she wasn’t alone.

The Madison Edgewood senior doubled up on the excitement during the WIAA Division 2 state girls golf tournament. Not only did she win her first individual state championship, she led the Crusaders to their second team title of her four-year career — and the school’s WIAA-record 15th overall.

For that performance, Welch emerged from a strong field to earn the Wisconsin State Journal All-Area Girls Golf Player of the Year honor for 2019.

“Grace really knows what it is like” to compete at the highest level, veteran Edgewood coach Peggy Gierhart said before the state tournament. “She has been a mature player and leader since her first day.”

During both days of the state meet (Oct. 14 and 15), all the players had to cool their heels for as long as two hours, with starting times delayed due to frost at University Ridge Golf Course.

Once on the course, though, Welch was all business. The UW-Green Bay recruit turned in the best Division 2 round of the opening day, a 4-over-par 76 which also ranked as the third-best opening round overall. Under tougher conditions on the second day, she shot an 82 — which still ranked second-best among Division 2 players — to finish at 158, eight strokes ahead of the runner-up.

“It was definitely a little nerve-wracking — a little more today than yesterday,” Welch said of her final round.

On the other hand, the second round at state was as low-key as Gierhart and her team could have hoped for. They finished the first day with a 29-stroke lead over Prescott, and built on that to take a 71-stroke margin of victory, teaming up for a four-player, two-day total of 702.

And so the Crusaders team — Welch, Caitlyn Hegenbarth, Grace Jaeger, Anaka Leske and Alyssa Thao — brought home the school’s 15th championship trophy.

“When I got (to Edgewood), I knew about the history,” Welch said before the state tournament, “but I wanted to create my own experience and also help the team carry on its success. It’s amazing how fast it’s all gone by.”

The runner-up for this year’s honor is Middleton senior Kate Meier. Given the nickname “Mama Kate” by her teammates, the four-year veteran led the Cardinals to the Division 1 state title, shooting 76-78-154 to finish seventh as an individual.

Meier, a Loyola University recruit, also won the Big Eight Conference meet, shooting 79 to win by four strokes. She averaged 39.1 strokes per round during the regular season. She was the 2018 All-Area Player of the Year.

Coaches of the Year: Both Middleton’s Becky Halverson and Madison Edgewood’s Peggy Gierhart led their team to the top of the state coaches’ rankings, conference tournament titles and WIAA regional, sectional and state championships. As a result, they share the State Journal’s All-Area Coach of the Year honor.

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL

2019 ALL-AREA GIRLS GOLF TEAM

Player of the Year

Grace Welch, sr., Madison Edgewood: Shot the best round of any WIAA Division 2 individual state tournament player with an opening-day 76, and the second-best score of the second round with an 82 to win the individual state title by eight strokes at 158. Also led Edgewood to the team championship after individual and team wins at sectional (80) and regional (76) meets, after shooting 78 for third in the Badger South Conference meet. A UW-Green Bay commit.

First team

Kate Meier, sr., Middleton: Tabbed “Mama Kate” by her teammates, Meier shot 76-78-154 at WIAA Division 1 state, leading the Cardinals to the team championship after a runner-up finish in 2018. Earned medalist honors in the Big Eight Conference meet with a 79, winning by four strokes. Averaged 39.1 strokes per nine-hole round during the regular season. Committed to Loyola University of Chicago.

Caitlyn Hegenbarth, jr., Madison Edgewood: Finished eighth at Division 2 state, shooting 87-88-175. Took third in sectionals (86) and second in regionals (80). Earned second-team All-Badger South Conference honors, finishing second on the team in the conference meet (91).

Aly Kinzel, jr., Waunakee: Tied for 32nd at individual state (87-87-174), helping Waunakee finish fifth in a 12-team Division 1 field. Tied for seventh in the Badger North Conference meet (87) as Waunakee won the team title. Led the Warriors to runner-up finishes behind Middleton in regional and sectional meets.

Myranda Kotlowski, sr., Stoughton: Led area Division 1 individual state competitors, shooting 76-77-153. Shot 82 in the Badger South Conference meet, finished second with a 75 in her sectional and won her regional with a 79.

Glenna Sanderson, jr., Middleton: Shot 79-77-156 at state, finishing ninth in the Division 1 field and playing a huge role in the Cardinals’ 13-stroke team victory over Brookfield Central after returning from a chronic foot ailment that forced her to miss the Big Eight and WIAA regional meets.

Second team

Maya Heckmann, jr., Lakeside Lutheran: Tied for 11th at Division 2 state, shooting a second-day 86 after an opening 96 for a 182 total. Named Player of the Year in the Rock Valley Conference, leading the Warriors to the conference tournament title and second place overall in the league.

Kallie Lux, jr., Janesville Craig: Shot 82-79-161 at Division 1 state, finishing 13th. Took fourth in the Big Eight meet with an 88. The Cougars had the area's third-best average team score, 171.4 for four players over nine holes.

Carly Moon, sr., Baraboo: Won an individual regional title with an 80, but missed an individual state berth by five strokes. Shot 78 to win the Badger North Conference individual title by five strokes.

Ellie Frisch, so., Middleton: Shot 79 on the second day to finish 18th at Division 1 state, totaling 166. Finished second in the Big Eight Conference meet, shooting 83.

Caylie Kotlowski, jr., Stoughton: Shot 89-86-175 at Division 1 state, finishing 34th. Won her sectional (74), took second in her regional (85) and was fifth in the Badger South Conference meet (80).

Honorable mention

Milanne Dahmen, so., Middleton; Sophie Denure, jr., Portage; Ava Downing, Madison West; Hannah Dunk, fr., Milton; Taryn Endres, so., DeForest; Sydney Grimm, jr., Waunakee; Ava Heckmann, fr., Lakeside Lutheran; Makenzie Hodson, sr., Middleton; Mary Hommen, sr., Cambridge; Grace Jaeger, jr., Madison Edgewood;

Anna Krieski, sr., Reedsburg; Anaka Leske, sr., Madison Edgewood; Ellie Lombardo, jr., Mount Horeb; Bridget McCarthy, Madison Memorial; Bria McDade, sr., Janesville Parker; Angelina Myhr, so., Madison La Follette; Sydney O’Hearn, sr., Sun Prairie; Aubrie Pero, sr., Cambridge; Andrea Schleeper, Verona; Alyssa Schmidt, jr., Oregon; Allyssa Thao, so., Madison Edgewood.

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