Neither wind, nor rain, nor sleet can stop the New Richmond girls’ golf team.
The Tigers are WIAA Division 1 regional champions, putting together a sterling effort in some of the worst weather conditions imaginable at the regional tournament played at Nemadji Golf Club in Superior on Wednesday.
With senior Jessica Hagman earning medalist honors and sophomore Lanie Veenendall tying for second place, the Tigers won the regional title by posting a 340 score. River Falls (345), Hudson (391) and Eau Claire Memorial (398) also advanced to the sectional tournament, which will be played next Tuesday at Stevens Point.
The Superior and Wisconsin Rapids regionals were the only ones to play on Wednesday, with all other tournaments postponed.
“I’ve never coached in cold, wind and rain at one time,” said New Richmond coach Neal Ziller. “The conditions were really bad.”
That’s what made the Tigers’ success even more astonishing. The top three Tigers, Hagman, Veenendall and Sydney Nolan, all played the best rounds of their careers.
“This was one of the best rounds I’ve ever seen played,” Ziller gushed.
Hagman has a track record of success at Superior, but she played to new heights on Wednesday.
“That 73 was a pure magical round. That round was phenomenal,” Ziller said.
Veenendall took a double bogey on her second hole of the day. She responded by playing par golf on the rest of the front nine. She followed that 38 with a 39. Ziller said that is the level Veenendall is capable of consistently playing at, saying she just needs to believe it.
Nolan also had to recover from one bad hole. She took a 10 on hole #11, a hole that gave all the Tigers trouble.
“Coming back from a 10 showed real intestinal fortitude,” Ziller said.
The freshmen who are the fourth and fifth players in the lineup also played well. Abbie Ritzer played a very steady round, shooting 103. Kailey Stevens finished at 115. Ziller saw progress in Stevens’ back nine. After taking a 63 on the front, she finished with a 52 that the coaches are hoping is her breakthrough round.
The sectional will be played at the Stevens Point Country Club. The Tigers have played the course once this season, so they have some familiarity with it. Ziller said he thought the girls could generate scores at the sectional course similar to what they produced at Superior.
River Falls and Hudson
River Falls coach Gabe Van Pelt said the Wildcats played extremely well in some of the worst conditions you could ask for.
“Six hours of wind, cold, and rain generally don't add up to friendly golf scores,” he said. “But all five accepted the challenge, and it was encouraging to see us post our best team score of the year when we need it most.”
River Falls finished five strokes behind New Richmond in second place with a season-best score of 340 while Hudson also moved on to the sectional round with a third place score of 391.
Hudson’s Paige Hillman tied for second individually with a round of 77 while River Falls’ Hannah Harper and Jaden Woiwode took the next two spots, with Harper shooting a 78 to place fourth and Woiwode’s 81 placing her fifth.
“Hannah had her best day despite overcoming a slow start of 6-over thru five and ended up posting sub-80,” Van Pelt noted. “Jaden continues to be a threat to individually medal and I'm just proud of this group as a whole.”
River Falls got an eighth place score of 92 from Lilly Accola and Mekinnah Xiong was 11th with 94 while Makaylin Harer and Hudson’s Courtney Dummer tied for 12th with 96. Molly Nelson shot 108 for the Raiders and Maliah Pytleski had 110 while Makayla Shilts finished at 112.
Van Pelt said he’s looking forward to seeing New Richmond and Hudson again at this week’s sectional.
“We have the luxury of five golfers who have the ability to post numbers that put us in contention at every match,” he said. “Hats off to New Richmond though, and especially Jessica Hagman for posting an unbelievable round of 73 to take the regional crown. That said, we're happy with our performance and looking forward to competing this week in Stevens Point.”