The St. Croix Central girls’ golf team finished second to Prescott for the 11th time this season Tuesday, Oct. 12, but this time it came at the WIAA Division 2 State Girls Golf Tournament.
Prescott won its second straight state title at University Ridge in Madison after wrapping up the two-day tournament with a team score of 671. It’s the third straight year the Cardinals brought home a trophy after finishing as runner-up in 2019.
For St. Croix Central, it’s the first time in four state appearances that the Panthers have hoisted a WIAA trophy.
“But boy it wasn't easy,” Panther coach Logan Kimberly said.
In Monday’s first round, which was played in a steady rain and included a two-hour weather delay, the Panthers posted a team total of 348, which was 47 strokes better than their best score at University Ridge two years ago.
Sally Vangsness ended the day as the Division 2 co-leader along with Prescott’s Ava Salay with a six-over par 78. All of the other top three Panther scores averaged out to bogey golf ,with Sydney Burgess at 87, Gil Holme at 89, and Sarah McHenry at 94.
“I was thinking about the best we might shoot given the conditions was bogey golf all around, or 360,” Kimberly noted. “But our girls were incredibly 12 strokes under that ambitious mark. We played unbelievable and really blew our expectations out of the water.”
That left St. Croix Central 10 strokes behind Prescott and 19 strokes ahead of last year’s state runner-up– The Prairie School.
Then Day two hit, and the Panthers had to start grinding.
“It wasn't raining, but the course was still very saturated with water on most fairways,” Kimberly said. “Regardless, we just didn't have the same mojo as we did the previous day.”
Any hopes of catching Prescott vanished early as the Cardinals started to pull away from the rest of the field and the Panthers’ lead over The Prairie School was rapidly shrinking.
“I told our girls though, those who play a lot of golf know that you don't always have your A-game going, so you just have to grind out rounds sometimes and fight for every stroke,” Kimberly said. “That's exactly what we did.”
The Panthers ended the day with a score of 372 for a two-day total of 720, which was three strokes better than The Prairie School for second place and the runner-up trophy.
“We gutted it out and found a way to hold onto second place, even when we didn't play our best,” Kimberly said. “That's what a team of seniors will do for you.”
Vangsness ended up placing fourth individually with a two-day total of 166 (78-88) while Salay took the individual title with 148 (78-70). Somerset’s Ava Pesha also medaled with a sixth place score of 168 (84-84). It’s the second state tournament medal for Vangsness after tying for fifth last year.
Burgess contributed a two-day total of 177 (87-90) to St. Croix Central’s team score and Holme shot 183 (89-94), while McHenry finished with 196 (94-102) and Janessa Olson scored 203 (103-100).
Kimberly gave a big shout out to Olson for her play in Tuesday’s second round.
“She's the only girl on our team who shot better on the second day than the first day, and we ended up using her score on the second day, which may have ultimately kept us afloat and allowed us to keep what little cushion we had until the very end,” the coach said. “She showed some major mental toughness on her round and shot one of her best nine-hole scores (46) on the last nine-holes of her high school career. This just goes to show how important having a deeply talented team is.”
Kimberly said he was incredibly proud of what all five Panther seniors have accomplished over the course of their careers, including three straight state tournament appearances.
“They are great leaders, role models, and just genuinely fantastic people to be around,” he said. “They've set a high bar for the other girls in our program, and I've been honored to coach them for the past four years.”