New Richmond golfers find the importance of depth
At the start of the season it might have been easy to view the New Richmond girls golf squad as a two-player team.
That has changed a great deal. The Tigers have the two top players in the conference in seniors Alex Wheeler and Megan Chelberg. They both had rounds well below their standards last week, but the improvement of the rest of the Tiger lineup carried the team to victories in both MBC matches.
In the Sept. 10 match at Clifton Highlands, Chelberg ran into her first major difficulties of the season. The four other Tigers were there to make sure the team's string of MBC victories continued. Wheeler and hard-charging junior Hannah Baker tied for medalist honors by shooting 41s. This was Baker's first time being medalist in a varsity match. Emma Ongstad and Maddie McCann also improved their scores, Ongstad finishing at 48 and McCann 52. Their strong rounds allowed the Tigers to finish at 182, six strokes ahead of Osceola.
Tiger coach Neal Ziller said Baker's emergence as one of the top five players in the conference is the result of the positive attitude she maintains.
"She's really matured as a player," Ziller said. "Hannah is very mentally tough."
On Thursday at Bristol Ridge, it was Wheeler who had a bit of an off day, shooting a 46. But Chelberg bounced back in a big way, taking medalist honors as the Tigers finished with a 185. That was 16 strokes better than Osceola, which has finished second behind the Tigers in every MBC match this season.
With Chelberg at 43, Baker at 45 and Wheeler at 46 the Tigers had three of the top four scores in the meet. Ongstad finished at 51 and McCann at 54.
Ziller praised Chelberg for her ability to put an extremely difficult round behind her.
"That's a disciplined player, to take a lump like that and come back. That's a mature golfer," Ziller said.
As the season nears tournament time, Ziller said the Tigers will renew their focus on improving their short game. He said the team is strong enough in the fairway to achieve everything it wants from the season, but there is still room for improvement in the areas of chipping and putting.
The Tigers continue to hold strongly to third place in the Middle Border Conference standings. The Tigers took fourth place at Clifton Highlands last Tuesday, before finishing in third place on their home course on Thursday.
Spartan junior Stacy Bracht has become one of the steadiest players in the conference. She ranks fifth in the conference standings after shooting 49 on Tuesday and 48 on Thursday.
Sophomore Ally Wittstock shot 52 and 53 in the two matches. She has earned conference points in four straight matches and continues to come closer to ranking in the top 10 players in the conference.
Seniors Rachel Briggs and Meghan Wolner are the Spartans' third and fourth players. Coach Bill Powers said he is hoping they can still make more improvement as the team pushes toward its goal of reaching the WIAA sectional tournament.
The Panthers and Prescott continue to swap fourth and fifth place finishes. Consistency is the main issue for the Panthers this season. All five players in the varsity lineup have been the leading scorer at some point this season, but none has stayed there.
In Tuesday's match, seniors Becca Isnardi and Janelle Olson were the team leaders by shooting 50 and 54. On Thursday, junior Brittany Nabors and sophomore Emma Landry were the Panthers' leaders by shooting 53.
The last event of the MBC golf season will be played next Thursday, Sept. 26. The 18-hole conference tournament will be played at Osceola's Krooked Kreek Golf Course.
Sept. 10 match at Clifton Highlands
Team scores: New Richmond 182, Osceola 188, Prescott 220, Somerset 222, St. Croix Central 227, Baldwin-Woodville 246, Ellsworth 266, Amery 286
New Richmond scores
Alex Wheeler 41, Hannah Baker, 41, Emma Ongstad 48, Maddie McCann 52, Megan Chelberg 55
Stacy Bracht 49, Ally Wittstock 52, Rachel Briggs 58, Meghan Wolner 58, Cally Meixner 63
St. Croix Central scores
Becca Isnardi 50, Janelle Olson 54, Katlyn Delander 58, Emma Landry 65, Kenzie Eisenbacher 66