The Prescott Cardinals girls’ golf team completed their 2018 season with an eighth-place finish at the Edgewood Sacred Heart Division 2 WIAA sectional.
One year later, they capped off their season in Madison once again — but on University Ridge Golf Course and have come home with hardware.
The Cardinals earned a second-place finish at the WIAA Division 2 Girls’ Golf State Championships on Tuesday, Oct. 15, after shooting a two-day score of 773.
“Overall I was thrilled with the outcome for our team,” Prescott’s head coach Chad Salay said. “Most of our girls have only one to two years of tournament experience — let alone state tournament experience — so for them to handle the pressure of a state tournament and perform as well as they did as a team, we are thrilled.”
The only Division 2 team the Cardinals were unable to defeat was Edgewood, the defending state champions who shot a 702 at this year’s state tournament.
“We knew coming into the tournament it was going to be a very tall task to take down Edgewood, especially in a two-day event,” Salay said. “One day, we could possibly catch them on an off day, but the odds of a team like that to have two off days in a row is very slim. We were proud that we built a big lead on the rest of the field heading into Day 2 and for the most part maintained that lead over the rest of the course of the tournament.”
The Cardinals edged out Middle Border Conference opponent St. Croix Central by 17 strokes to seal their second-place finish and were led by freshman Ava Salay who finished with an individual second-place finish to match her team’s outcome.
“Ava really had to battle those two days — not so much against the field but herself,” coach Salay said. “She has been battling her swing a bit the past couple weeks. However, she was able to piece enough of her game together to pull it out. We often talk about getting your game to a level that when you don’t necessarily have your 'A' or 'B' game, you can still pull out tournament wins, which she has done this year a few times. Unfortunately, when you run into a player like Grace Welch (a future Division 1 golfer at UW-Green Bay) that is not going to happen. You are going to need your 'A' game.”
Welch earned the Division 2 state title after shooting an impressive 14-over-par 158 and edging out Salay by eight strokes. Salay held onto her runner-up finish by beating out Osseo-Fairchild/Fall Creek’s Ariel Heuer by one stroke.
“I didn’t know it was that tight,” Salay said. “My dad informed me at the end. I just played my game and was able to get it done just thinking through my shots. The first day of the tournament we all played well, and the whole team was pretty excited. I didn’t have the game I wanted to have on Day 2, but I’m still very happy with how our team and I finished.”
Salay shot a nine-over-par 81 on Day 1 (which included a two-over-par 38 on the front nine) and completed her first state tournament with an 85 on Tuesday.
“Still, for (Ava) to pull out a runner-up against a very solid field of state golfers that were giving her a real run that second day, she has a lot to be proud of and she gained some invaluable experience,” coach Salay said. “I have a pretty good source that says she will come back pretty hungry next season.”
Maybe the most exciting element of this Cardinal season is that they built a state-tournament run with four underclassmen. But their lone senior, Alexis Fredericks, who’s kept their program above water throughout her four-year varsity career will be hard to replace in the years to come.
Fredericks was tied for ninth with a score of 89 after Day 1 but dropped down to tie for 17th place after shooting a 104 on Tuesday.
“I think Alexis had a lot of emotions running through her yesterday; state tournament pressure, possibly her last competitive golf tournament and just the normal ups and downs of a teenager,” coach Salay said. “She has carried many rounds of golf for our program throughout her four years and she needed to lean on her teammates a bit yesterday. That is something we discussed as the round progressed and it allowed her to play a bit more free towards the end of her round.
“She will be missed. She has helped to build what we have going here since she was a freshman my first year of coaching. She kept us relevant when we struggled for a couple years there.”
“(Fredericks) was an amazing leader throughout this year and has been a huge part of this team the past four years,” freshman Salay said. “We will all miss her dedication to the team greatly..”
But Fredericks will always be a part of Cardinal history and the Prescott girls’ golf team that opened doors for Cardinal teams of the future.
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“It has really been a dream season, but I truly believed that we could do something like this,” coach Salay said. “You never truly know what other teams out there have, but I just trusted what our girls were doing and knew we had a really solid core of girls that had experience. Next year without Alexis will be a little bit more foreign territory, however we have a very deep team and I know for a fact that girls will have to improve to make our varsity roster next season. That is a great place to be as the coach of the Prescott girls’ golf team.”
Team scores: 1. Edgewood (702) 2. Prescott (773) 3. St. Croix Central (790) 4. Osseo-Fairchild/Fall Creek (800) 5. Xavier (801) 6. Wrightstown (842)
Prescott: Salay (166, second overall), Fredericks (193, t17), Liz Rohl (194, 21st), Jessica Heinsch (220, 31st) Lindsay Olson (236, 37th)
Photos from the WIAA Division 2 Girls' Golf State Championships will be added at a later date.