2021 WIAA state boys golf tournament: Rob Hernandez’s Division 3 sectional preview, predictions

2021 WIAA state boys golf tournament: Rob Hernandez's Division 3 sectional preview, predictions

Wisconsin.Golf’s Rob Hernandez sizes up the WIAA Division 3 boys sectional golf tournaments being contested across the state this week. The top two teams in each sectional advance to next week’s state tournament, along with the top three golfers not on those teams. The Division 3 state championships are scheduled for June 14-15 at Trappers Turn Golf Club.

When, where: 9 a.m. Tuesday at Hunter’s Glen GC-Crivitz, par 72.

That was then (in 2019): Stevens Point Pacelli senior Trevor Frane shot 72 at Hunter’s Glen in Crivitz to win the WIAA Division 3 Crivitz sectional and power the Cardinals (342) to a 38-stroke victory over Coleman for the team title. Wabeno/Laona came within two strokes of forcing a playoff for the second of two state tournament berths. Manawa sophomore Peyton Schuelke (78), Wabeno/Laona senior Grace Warrner (82) and Oconto sophomore Will Sherman earned individual state tournament berths as the top three golfers whose teams did not advance to University Ridge Golf Course in Madison. Schuelke and Sherman, who beat Marathon freshman Noah Gage (82) in a playoff for the last of three state tournament berths, were the top finishers among golfers still competing at the high school level in 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled their 2020 season in Wisconsin.

This is now: Peyton Schuelke is back for his senior season at Manawa, looking to finish his career the way he started it after two years in between that may never be duplicated. After finishing 26th at the WIAA Division 3 state tournament as a freshman on a team led by his senior brother Ryan (T-6), Peyton withdrew from the 2019 state tournament 13 holes into the first round due to an illness and then had his junior season erased entirely by COVID-19. Schuelke comes into the sectional after sharing medalist honors with Marathon junior Noah Gage at the Marathon regional with matching 75s. Their teams finished well behind Newman Catholic, which would be the closest thing to a favorite if sophomore Conner Krach can uncork another sub-80 round out of the No. 2 position and the Cardinals can get two more sub-90 rounds around him like they did at Marathon. If not, Manawa, Marathon, Wabeno/Laona, Bonduel and Oconto figure to be among the teams eager to step in and cast their lot for the two state berths at Trappers Turn Golf Club in Wisconsin Dells.

Projected state team qualifiers: Manawa, Newman Catholic (Wausau).

Projected state individual qualifiers: Noah Gage, Marathon; Ethan Mehlberg, Wisconsin Valley Lutheran (Mosinee); Keller Anderson, Pacelli (Stevens Point).

When, where: 9 a.m. Wednesday at Frederic GC, par 72.

That was then: Junior Logan Lillehaug shot 77 and senior Beau Brenizer shot 78 as Luck/Frederic edged Spring Valley 338-339 to win the WIAA Division 3 Cumberland sectional at Cumberland Golf Course. Grantsburg (342) and Durand (345) came within a few shots of earning the second state berth. The top three individual finishers — Eleva-Strum senior Isaac Larrabee (75), Cameron senior Brice Klabunde (75) and Grantsburg senior Jared Lee (77) — were the three individual state qualifiers as the top golfers whose teams did not advance to University Ridge. Durand sophomore Dawson Kurth (T-7) and Eleva-Strum sophomore Nick Higley (T-9) were the top finishers among golfers still competing at the high school level in 2021.

This is now: Sixty-seven years after making its last WIAA state tournament appearance, Durand seems poised to end the drought behind Dunn-St. Croix Conference player of the year Dawson Kurth, a UW-Eau Claire recruit who has watched some solid depth develop around him. Fellow senior Charlie Brenner and junior Simon Bauer shot 82s at the Dunn-St. Croix Championship to edge Kurth by one shot and seniors Caden Berger and Jackson Boigenzahn are both capable of breaking 100, giving the Panthers a solid No. 4 score. Kurth will play his final WIAA sectional on the same course he played his first in 2018, when he shot 79 and earned the last of three individual berths to the state tournament. Scores were low that year when Luck/Frederic shot 320 to edge Eleva-Strum (324). Senior Nick Higley of Eleva-Strum shot 78 that year to help the Cardinals get to University Ridge GC in Madison, where they finished third at the state tournament. Higley has Eleva-Strum in position to battle Ladysmith, Fall Creek, Drummond, Luck/Frederic and Grantsburg for the second state berth behind Durand.

Projected state team qualifiers: Durand, Ladysmith.

Projected state individual qualifiers: Nick Higley, Eleva-Strum; Tyler Van Atta, Luck/Frederic; Riley Sterry, Eleva-Strum.

When, where: 9 a.m. Wednesday at Dodge-Point CC-Mineral Point, par 70.

That was then: Senior Boomer Zierath of Abundant Life/Country Day (Madison) took medalist honors with a 71 and classmate Jack Rollins added a 74 at The Oaks GC in Cottage Grove as the Challengers shot 316 and won their own regional by 12 strokes over Osseo-Fairchild (328). Cochrane-Fountain City (341) and Cambridge finished third and fourth, respectively. Mineral Point junior Simon Mitchell (72), New Glarus senior Matt Hach (75) and Lancaster freshman Noah Kirsch (78) earned the three individual berths to the state tournament. Kirsch was the top finisher among golfers still competing at the high school level this spring.

This is now: With four underclassmen among its top five golfers, the case could be made that Mineral Point’s best days are ahead of it. But Wednesday offers a unique opportunity to punch its ticket to state on its home course with a lineup that features the most impressive top three of any team at the sectional in junior Ollie Mitchell, sophomore Carson Kroll and freshman Alex Ross. Fennimore also played well last week on a tough course at the House on the Rock Resort GC in Spring Green, with seniors Adam Larson (84) and Drew Fifrick (89) breaking 90 in the Golden Eagles’ runner-up finish. Lancaster could be a factor with a state champion contender in junior Noah Kirsch. Aquinas (La Crosse), which competes in the Division 1 Mississippi Valley Conference, is coming off an exceptional regional performance at Drugan’s Castle Mound GC in Holmen where the Blugolds crowned a regional champion in junior Sam Dobbins (80) and had all five golfers break 100. Parkview (Orfordville) junior Trey Oswald is a high-mileage tournament golfer who leads the list of contenders with an eye on state tournament berths individually.

Projected state team qualifiers: Mineral Point, Aquinas (La Crosse).

Projected state individual qualifiers: Noah Kirsch, Lancaster; Trey Oswald, Parkview (Orfordville); Carson Parks, Port Edwards.

When, where: 8:30 a.m. Monday at South Hills CC-Fond du Lac, par 71.

That was then: All five Roncalli (Manitowoc) golfers shot 86 or better on Lawsonia’s Links Course in Green Lake, led by senior Ian Behringer’s 78, as the Jets shot 339 and held off Sheboygan Lutheran (339) to take the team title at the Markesan regional. Roncalli would go on to win the weather-shortened WIAA state tournament. St. Mary’s Springs (Fond du Lac) shot 345 to edge Howards Grove (347) in the battle for third. St. Mary’s Springs senior Doyle Kelly (74), Williams Bay senior Thomas Korsholm (79) and Howards Grove senior Ryan Splittgerber (79) grabbed the three individual state berths. Sheboygan Christian freshman Michael Modahl (84) was the top finisher among golfers still playing high school golf in 2021.

This is now: The Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin Division 3 state rankings would suggest that the 2021 WIAA state champion will almost certainly come out of this sectional with 2019 state champion Roncalli (Manitowoc) at No. 1, with tournament host and four-time state champion St. Mary’s Springs (Fond du Lac), Kohler, Racine Lutheran, Abundant Life Christian/Country Day (Madison) and Cambridge at Nos. 1 through 6, respectively. Roncalli, however, comes into the sectional off a third-place showing at the regional at Quit-Qui-Oc GC in Elkhart Lake with its 349 total falling short of St. Mary’s Springs (340) and Neenah St. Mary Catholic (347), which is No. 8 in this week’s rankings. Racine Lutheran, a team with all seniors in its starting five, opened eyes last week when it shot 326 and slipped past host Cambridge (332) on another classic course at Lake Ripley CC in Cambridge with No. 2 golfer Riley Gal (75) and No. 1 Scooter Molbeck breaking 80. Kohler, which has three seniors in its top five, also served notice that it is ready make a run at a state tournament berth after firing a 323 at The Bog GC in Saukville behind No. 3 golfer Reece Breitenbach, a sophomore who led the way with a 77.

Projected state team qualifiers: Racine Lutheran, Kohler.

Projected state individual qualifiers: Spencer Lynch, St. Mary Catholic (Neenah); Caleb Stinespring, Kenosha Christian Life; Teddy Schumacher, St. Mary’s Springs (Fond du Lac).

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