Prescott senior Alexis Fredericks reflected on her team’s first 2019 Middle Border Conference golf meet with modesty on Monday, Aug. 19.
“I think we were all nervous coming into it because it was the first individual one, but—”
But her head coach Chad Salay wasn’t hesitant when expressing his excitement for his team’s success.
“I’ll tell you I feel great,” Salay said before sharing a laugh with Fredericks.
And he should. Before Monday’s conference meet at Krooked Creek Golf Course in Osceola, Salay knew what he wanted from his golfers, and they executed his plan to a tee.
“Honestly, I told coach Rider before the meet started, ‘We need to shoot 190, and here’s what we need from each player,’” Salay said. “It was almost exactly the way we drew it up, so I’m ecstatic about the way they played. It was a great start to the season for us.”
The Cardinals finished the nine-hole course with a second-place score of 190, finishing 11 strokes behind the first-place New Richmond Tigers and three strokes in front of the third-place St. Croix Central Panthers.
Not only did the Cardinals meet Salay’s team goal, but they also claimed two top-two individual scores. Freshman Ava Salay won the meet with a score of 40, and Fredericks, who shot a 41, tied for third with New Richmond’s Jessica Hagman.
Coach Salay was pleased with Salay and Fredericks’ performances but also said his No. 3, 4 and 5 golfers played exactly how the team needed them to.
“They did what we needed them to do, which was awesome,” Salay said.
Fredericks, who fell one stroke short of qualifying for the WIAA Division 2 State Tournament last season, complimented the play of her sophomore teammates, and when asked what her goals are for the season, she diverted from her personal hopes and focused on what she wants her team to accomplish.
“At first (my goal) was to go to state because I was really close last year, but it’s turned more into a goal for the entire team,” Fredericks said. “I’m striving to get the whole team to state this year.”
After one conference meet and one scramble down, Salay believes taking the entire team to University Ridge Golf Course is an attainable aspiration.
“That’s something we’ve talked about all offseason. We want to go (to the state tournament) as a team,” Salay said. “I mean, obviously we want to get people there no matter what, but it would be awesome to go as a team. That’s going to be our focus for the year, and hopefully we can make it happen.”
To get there, the Cardinals plan to focus on their short game and putting.
“We feel like if we can have the best short game with our putting, we’re going to be one of the best teams in the state,” Salay said. “So, that’s going to be our main emphasis to start the year. There’s tons of stuff to work on, and we’re still going to work on everything, but that’s going to be our emphasis this year. That’ll show in our scores once we start improving in those areas.”
The Cardinals received six preseason Division 2 ranking votes from the Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin, and while the Cardinals are happy to receive the confidence-boosting recognition, they know they have a long season ahead of them.
“It’s cool to see,” Salay said. “It doesn’t mean much, but it’s kind of fun for the girls to see that people are recognizing that we have a good team this year, and hopefully we can live up to some of those standards and see what happens.”
“I’m sure we will,” Fredericks said.
Ellsworth shakes off seventh-place finish
While the Cardinals met their team goal on Monday, the Ellsworth Panthers fell short of the expectations they’ve set for themselves.
Ellsworth finished in seventh place with a team score of 222, but being without starter Ruby Straub helped put the day into perspective for the Panthers.
“It is the first (conference meet), we’re missing a starter, so that would have helped our scores out tremendously,” Ellsworth’s head coach Carson Huppert said. “We took second to last, but just having that one extra score could have put us right in the middle of the pack. That’s 10-12 strokes, and that would have put us in fourth place or around there.”
Huppert’s golfers echoed his outlook on the day.
“We need a lot of improvement, but it was just the first match of the season,” senior Holly Carlson said. “We have some new varsity (golfers) with us, and we were missing a player ... but actually, for our first time, I think we did pretty good. They had fun. They learned a lot.”
Huppert said he noticed some mishaps in his team’s general course knowledge but believes that’ll be an easy fix for his team.
“I don’t expect to take second to last like this every single time,” Huppert said. “We’re planning on being up toward the top.”
Huppert complimented the play of Carlson and Charlize Smith who finished the course with scores of 43 and 51. Carlson’s 43 landed her in a tie for fifth place with New Richmond’s Lanie Veenendal and added to her confidence heading into her senior season.
“I’d like to make it down to Madison,” Carlson said. “I’ve been working really hard this summer, and just based on today, I think I’ve proven to myself that I can stay with the group.”
As a team, the Panthers received 10 preseason votes from the GCAW, landing them in a tie for fifth place with Denmark.
How much does Huppert consider preseason rankings?
“You’re the first person to tell me that, so that’s how much I pay attention,” Huppert said.
Huppert and his golfers know they have plenty to work on before they can look like a state-ranked team, but they won’t be brooding over their seventh-place finish for too long.
“It’s a learning process,” Carlson said. “We know what we need to work on, and we’ll go back to practice and practice hard.”
The MBC teams will continue their conference play at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at Pheasant Hills Golf Course in Hammond.
Team scores: New Richmond (179), Prescott (190), St. Croix Central (193), Amery (213), Somerset (214), Baldwin-Woodville (218), Ellsworth (222), Osceola (233)
Prescott: Salay (40), Fredericks (41), Liz Rohl (54), Lindsay Olson (55), Jessica Heinsch (56)
Ellsworth: Carlson (43), Smith (51), Halle Flock (60), Whitney Elsen (68), Kennedy Schommer (81)