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New Richmond's girls golf team wins Division 1 sectional championship

The New Richmond girls golf team poses with the 2012 WIAA Division 1 sectional championship plaque after its victory at the Stevens Point Golf Club on Monday. Team members (l-r) are Coach Neal Ziller, Sarah Ziller, Rachel Ziller, Jordan Peterson, Megan Chelberg, Leah Bauer, Alex Wheeler and Coach Travis Gibson.

The New Richmond girls golf team is the sectional champion.

The Tigers put together another strong team performance in winning the Division 1 sectional tournament at Stevens Point on Monday, earning the team's fourth-ever appearance in the state tournament field.

The Tigers won the sectional title by shooting a team score of 350 at the challenging Stevens Point Golf Club. Tomah earned the second spot in the state tournament from this sectional by shooting a 359.

It's been a streak of tournament championships for the Tigers since they finished the regular season. They won the championship in the Middle Border Conference tournament, the Division 1 regional tournament played in New Richmond, and now the sectional championship.

As has been the case all season, there was exceptional balance in the Tigers' play at the sectional meet. Senior Leah Bauer tied for second place in the tournament by shooting an 83. Grace Onsrud of La Crosse Central-Logan was the meet medalist with an 81.

"Leah's 83 was huge. She's been playing really steady," said Tiger Coach Neal Ziller.

Junior Alex Wheeler finished with an 88 for the Tigers and junior Megan Chelberg finished with an 89. Senior Rachel Ziller shot a 90 and senior Jordan Peterson finished with a 95. Sophomore Sarah Ziller was the alternate for the Tigers.

The 2012 state tournament will be played at Cherokee Country Club in Madison next Monday and Tuesday. This is the fourth time the Tigers have qualified for the state meet. They first reached state in 2000 and 2001. The last time the Tigers played at state was two years ago, which was the first time they qualified in Division 1.

The Tigers have significant state tournament experience. Four of the Tigers were on the team that played at state in 2010. Bauer, Rachel Ziller and Wheeler played in the state tournament that year and Peterson was the alternate. Last year Wheeler qualified for state as an individual, where she set a Tiger team record by shooting a 79 in the second day of the state meet.

The location for the state tournament is new this year. For many years, the state tournament had been played at University Ridge Golf Club on the southern edge of Madison.

Coach Ziller, who has overseen all four Tiger state teams, said the challenging courses the Tigers played all season gave them an edge in the sectional tournament. He said some of the other sectional contenders don't play courses with the difficulty seen at the New Richmond Golf Club, the Amery Golf Club or Bristol Ridge Golf Club in Somerset.

"That played into our hands. I think that's why we won," Ziller said.

He said because the Tigers are accustomed to playing difficult courses, they could bounce back quickly if they had a bad hole in the tournament.

Ziller said the goal for state is to continue playing with the same focus that has carried the team to such lofty successes all season. He said he's hoping the team can finish among the top six teams in the 12-team state tournament field.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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