The pink ribbons in their hair and on their caps and visors were more than decorative.
The players on the Middleton girls golf team took to the Maple Bluff Country Club course with former Cardinals golfer Morgan Miles and her late mother, Rae Miles, foremost in their thoughts during Monday’s 10th annual Crusade Fore a Cure tournament.
“It is a little bit emotional,” Middleton senior Kate Meier said. “Rae was an amazing woman. She was always so quick to help and be supportive in any way she could. So, today, we are really playing for her and for Morgan and for everyone who has been touched by cancer and breast cancer.”
Meier and Middleton, ranked No. 1 in Division 1 in the state coaches’ poll, then went out and turned in strong outings.
Middleton was team champion with 329 — 27 strokes ahead of runner-up and fourth-ranked Bay Port (356). Host Madison Edgewood, the top-ranked team in Division 2 and reigning WIAA Division 2 state champion, was third with 361 in the tournament featuring 17 pink-clad teams.
Meier, who had four birdies, earned medalist honors with a 2-over-par 76, one shot better than Milton freshman Hannah Dunk.
Oregon junior Alyssa Schmidt, Madison Edgewood senior Grace Welch and Green Bay Notre Dame’s Grace Durkin each shot 78 on the par-74 layout, while Middleton junior Glenna Sanderson and Bay Port’s Jo Baranczyk totaled 80.
Baranczyk, a junior, won the WIAA Division 1 individual title last season. She was the Crusade Fore a Cure champion in 2017 and tied with Waunakee’s Sam Soulier for medalist honors last year.
“The course was challenging today, but my goal was to play as smart as possible,” said Meier, who recently orally committed to Loyola of Chicago for women’s golf. “So, I didn’t always hit driver off the tee. … I just wanted to make sure the course didn’t beat me today. I had four birdies, so I was really proud of that. I never gave up and I always remembered that I was playing for Rae and all other cancer survivors and victims.”
Rae Miles lost her battle with cancer, passing away in June. Morgan Miles — who’s now a University of Wisconsin student — was a high school senior in 2016 when her mother’s cancer returned prior to the girls golf season. That year, Morgan Miles, with her mom watching, helped Middleton win the Crusade Fore a Cure tournament.
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“Today is definitely not about where we are ranked or what we are in golf,” Middleton coach Becky Halverson said. “It’s about getting every team together and fundraising for a good cause. … Morgan did the speaking for us (at this event) a couple of years ago, so it’s really close to our hearts.
“So, the girls took it upon themselves and sold ribbons for Rae, and did an amazing job of fundraising for this event. … The girls are doing this for Rae and doing this for Morgan. It’s definitely an emotional day.”
Halverson, who had pink highlights in her hair for the event, said the defending Crusade Fore a Cure champion Cardinals maintained their composure and didn’t get upset during their rounds, understanding the cause for which they were playing. Halverson believed it was Middleton’s best team score at Maple Bluff.
The event helps raise funds to support Women’s Health and the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
“We are here for a bigger cause,” Madison Edgewood coach Peggy Gierhart told the players and coaches at the pre-tournament luncheon. “We are here as one team.”
Gierhart said more than $19,000 has been raised so far this year, pushing the 10-year total to more than $100,000.
This year’s total included $9,400 by Edgewood (which sold 45 tee signs, purchased by local Madison businesses and community members) and $2,650 by Middleton (which sold the “ribbons for Rae”).
Gierhart and assistant Betsy Zadra partnered with the Komen Foundation in 2010 and started the high school fundraiser tournament at Maple Bluff. The event partnered with the Komen Foundation the first eight years. This is the second year partnering with UW Carbone Cancer Center.
“It’s always a great experience to be able to play here, not only with the Middleton girls team but all the other teams in the community coming together for a great cause to raise money for the Carbone Cancer Center,” said Meier, who turned in her best round at Maple Bluff. “We look forward to it every year. It’s always amazing.”