One year after finishing as runners-up at the WIAA state girls golf tournament, Prescott broke through the final barrier and claimed the school's first state title. This year's state golf tournament was held Oct. 13-14 at Blackwolf Run Golf Course in Kohler, Wis., and by the end of the second round the Cardinals had a comfortable cushion at the top of the leaderboard.
Already playing the season under a unique set of circumstances, it was only fitting that one more curveball was thrown before the end of the season. Golfers were only able to get nine holes of golf in due to persistent lightning in the area that made it impossible for all of the golfers to get all 18 holes in before sundown. Tournament officials determined the best course of action was to score nine holes for those that had already surpassed that threshold, while the remaining golfers who had yet to take the course or were in their first holes, would play nine instead of 18.
"The weather was horrendous with 30 mile per hour winds," Prescott head girls' golf coach Chad Salay said. "We started out and got about five holes in … it’s tough to sit around for two or so hours and jump back on the course though."
Prescott opened the state golf tournament with a first-day team score of 186, putting them in first place. Not far behind them were 2018 and 2019 state champion Edgewood with 192 and The Prairie School with 195. Conference foe St. Croix Central sat in fourth place with a team score of 199.
"Luckily we were paired with the teams we were up against both days," Salay said. "Because with the weather we basically threw out any expectations and goals for scores and just played to be better than our competition."
Although the golfing returned in full on day two, the weather conditions were still a challenge. Of the top three schools on the leaderboard through the first day, only Prescott improved upon their average score on their second crack at the course. The result was turning what was a six-stroke lead heading into the final day, into a 19-run lead by the end of the second round.
By the end of the tournament, Prescott was firmly entrenched in first place with a team score of 560. The Prairie School jumped up to second place with 579 and Edgewood dropped to third (580). St. Croix Central remained in fourth place with 592.
The tournament win was not only progress from last season's runner-up finish to Edgewood but also Prescott's first-ever state title in girls golf.
"It's a great feeling to get the win," Salay said. "You don’t always get to be a champion when you put in that much work. It's good to see the results in the end."
Salay settles for runner-up for second year in a row
Individually at the tournament, Prescott had two golfers finish in the top 10. As she had done all season long, Ava Salay led the team with an 18-over-par 126. Her two-day score put her tantalizingly close to winning the individual title but for the second consecutive year, she had to settle for second place. Lauren Haen, who shot six strokes better than anyone else on Tuesday, claimed the individual title by one stroke over Salay.
"She battled the whole way and didn't necessarily know exactly where she was on the leaderboard," Chad Salay said of Ava. "I told her she was down by one entering that last hole. I was super proud of her and gave her a big hug after the round."
Rhi Stutz was Prescott's other top-10 finisher as she fell into a tie for sixth place with four others after scoring 134. Stutz had a better day two score than every other golfer on the course other than Haen and Salay.
Prescott's three other golfers all placed at the top of their numbered pairings. Maddie Reiter tied for 16th place with a two-day score of 148. Behind her were Liz Rohl in 21st (152) and Jessica Heinsch in a tie for 27th (161).
"Maddie Reiter came in big with a 46 on the first round, we needed that," Chad Salay said. "On Day 2, Rhi Stutz shooting an 86 with that weather; I told her that was a championship performance."
Other notable scores from the tournament include St. Croix Central's Sally Vangsness taking fifth place with a two-day score of 132. Teammate Sarah McHenry missed narrowly missed out on the top 10 with a 12th-place score of 141.
Ahead of Vangsness but behind Salay were Sophia Lawler of The Prairie School and Ashley Stanislawski of Catholic Memorial to tie for third place (128).
"I told the team let’s just enjoy this one for awhile before we think about the next one," Salay said about looking towards the future. "You worry as a coach about complacency, but that’s not something I’m worried about."