Heading into the Middle Border Conference golf championship, Prescott only needed to finish fourth to ensure their standing atop the conference at season's end. Considering in the eight conference meets held this year the Cardinals had yet to finish worse than second and took first six times, it appeared the conference championship was all but assured heading into Wednesday's meet at New Richmond Golf Club.

Prescott didn't disappoint in the conference championship, scoring a team total of 352 to take first place in the meet. The event also marked another milestone for the Cardinals — their first time ever winning the conference title. New Richmond had won six consecutive conference titles heading into this fall and 10 of the last 11.

New Richmond finished the meet in second place with 364, securing their second-place finish within the conference standings as well. St. Croix Central hit 383 to finish third for the meet and conference.

Ellsworth trailed behind with a team score of 456 for the meet to take seventh place. The Panthers ended the season in a tie for sixth place in the MBC with Osceola.

‘We had something special’

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Coming off of a runner-up finish at the state golf meet last year, Prescott knew it had the talent to push the boundaries of its previous accomplishments this fall. Four of its five golfers from one year ago had returned, headlined by sophomore Ava Salay, who finished second individually at the 2019 state golf meet.

“We knew we had something special so it was like, ‘c’mon let’s get this season in,’ because we knew we had a good shot at it,” Prescott head girls’ golf coach Chad Salay said. “It feels so good for the girls, they put in so much work, countless hours and this has been on their minds along with playoffs … of what we wanted to accomplish this season.”

With the conference title in the bag, there’s no signs that Prescott is going to let up any time soon either. As the conference season concludes, the Cardinals finished with two first-team and two second-team all-conference golfers, as well as one all-conference honorable mention. To have five golfers among the conference’s top-15 golfers proves how deep this team is — something that is sure to bode well as they enter regionals and sectionals in the weeks ahead.

Battle for Conference Player of the Year

As expected, Ava Salay was Prescott’s top golfer by season’s end. Salay and New Richmond’s Lanie Veenendal were embroiled in a battle for the MBC Player of the Year all season. Heading into the conference championship, Salay held a one-point advantage. Because of the slim margin, the player of the year would be determined by whichever golfer had the best finish Wednesday. The battle between the two lived up to the hype as they finished 1-2, but Veenendal finished atop the leaderboard with a one-stroke advantage over Salay. Veenendal shot 78, Salay 79 and St. Croix Central’s Sally Vangsness was a distant third with 86.

“Ava had the lowest scoring average in the conference this year,” Chad Salay said. “She played awesome for us all year. A couple hiccups in the middle of the season with a couple of tough rounds but overall she has been a rock all season.”

Rhi Stutz and Liz Rohl finished the meet in a tie for fourth place with 89 strokes. The results pushed Stutz into fifth place in the final conference standings, while Rohl took sixth. Jessica Heinsch, who finished 11th on Wednesday, tied for seventh in the conference. Rounding out the Cardinals’ lineup was Maddie Reiter, who finished tied for 15th in the conference after tying for 12th place at the conference championship.

Ellsworth fights for midfield placement

The battle for fourth through seventh place in the conference was contentious all season long, as Ellsworth finished the year in a sixth-place tie. The Panthers finished as high as fourth at their home meet and as low as seventh — on three different occasions.

Individually, Charlize Smith was Ellsworth’s top golfer as she finished in a tie for 18th in the conference. Katie Gillespie was second in the pecking order, taking 26th place.

On Wednesday, Smith led the Panthers with the lone sub-100 score as she finished with 99 to tie for 14th. Behind her were Gillespie (111), Hallie Flock (120), Kayley Bayer (126) and Shelby Lawler (128).

Regionals up next

Prescott and Ellsworth will next compete Wednesday, Sept. 30 at Pheasant Hills Golf Club in Hammond for the WIAA Division 2 regional. The first golfers will tee off at 9 a.m.