Advancing to the WIAA Division 2 Girls’ State Golf Championships has been a realistic goal for the Prescott Cardinals since the start of the 2019 season.
But now that they’ve attained that goal, their accomplishment has yet to sink in.
“I don’t even feel it yet,” Prescott senior Alexis Fredericks said. “I’ve been trying to get to state for the last four years.”
The Cardinals earned their first sectional title on Tuesday, Oct. 8, after scoring a first-place team score of 390 at Pheasant Hills Golf Course. The Cardinals’ 390 landed them five strokes ahead of St. Croix Central who defeated the Cardinals at the Middle Border Conference Tournament on Wednesday, Sept. 25.
“It was tight,” Prescott’s head coach Chad Salay said. “We knew Ellsworth was going to bring a good round, and of course St. Croix Central was going to bring a good round. But it definitely feels good to actually accomplish what we were hoping to.”
“It was definitely nerve-wracking,” sophomore Liz Rohl said. “We were just sitting there reloading, reloading, reloading the stats.”
“It was a tough day with the wind, but we powered through it,” Fredericks added.
Salay referred to Tuesday’s sectional as “the windiest game” he’s coached in 12 seasons of coaching. “It was brutal, and that you cannot practice for,” Salay said. “It was a mental battle for the girls, but I thought they did well with it. It was just constantly telling them, ‘Par is not par today; it’s one stroke more. You’re doing fine. Just get it in the hole in the least amount of strokes, because we’re not looking at what we usually shoot at this course.’”
Despite their season-long goal being on the line on Tuesday, Prescott’s head coach Chad Salay felt as though his team handled the postseason pressure exceptionally well.
“I just never felt that they had any pressure,” Salay said. “I think they were really, gosh, even the car ride there I was just making sure they were just having fun in the back seat, and I didn’t want them to feel like we had to focus more because the stakes were higher or anything. I felt like the nerves were really low for them.”
The varsity five finished within the top 26 of the 48-participant tournament and were led by freshman Ava Salay who finished first with a score of 84. Salay may have led the Cardinals once again, but just as it has been all season long, it was a team effort that allowed Prescott to reach new heights its program has never seen before.
“It doesn’t feel like reality,” sophomore Jessica Heinsch said.
Carlson’s dream comes true
The Ellsworth Panthers came up eight strokes short of advancing to the state championships as a team but will be sending senior Holly Carlson to University Ridge Golf Course where she’ll compete as an individual.
“I feel very proud and accomplished for making it to state,” Carlson said. “The pressure of making it is gone, and now I can celebrate.”
Carlson finished in second place at Pheasant Hills Golf Course with a score of 84, which set her two strokes behind Salay.
“When I found out I was going to state, I was so happy and thrilled,” Carlson said. “My coach was there the last few holes and told me, ‘Play your game and you will be fine.’”
"I am super proud of Holly," Ellsworth's head coach Carson Huppert said. "Holly making it to Madison just goes to show you that hard work pays off."
Carlson and Tuesday’s other two individual qualifiers, Northwestern’s Kiernan Smith and Somerset’s Haley Meyers, finished within two strokes of each other, but Carlson’s score beat out the first individual who missed advancing to state by eight strokes.
"The wind was brutal but Holly is a gamer," Huppert said. "She plays her best when her best is expected. I can't wait to see her play down in Madison. I think she can do very well."
“Honestly, I wasn’t nervous at all,” Carlson said. “I was prepared for this day. I knew every stroke I had to hit. This was my dream, and I was finally able to make it come true.”
Carlson and the Cardinals will compete at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 14-15. Division 2 golfers are scheduled to tee off at 8:50 a.m. on Monday.
Team scores: 1. Prescott (390) 2. St. Croix Central (395) 3. Ellsworth (402) 4. Somerset (413) 5. Northwestern (433) 6. Flambeau (440) 7. Spooner (453) 8. Barron (459)
Prescott: Salay (84), Fredericks (97), Rohl (102), Heinsch (107), Lindsay Olson (111)
Ellsworth: Carlson (86), Smith (101), Sweere (102), Stella Anderson (113), Kennedy Schommer (118)