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Hagman back in full swing after knee injury

New Richmond junior Jessica Hagman made an auspicious return to golfing, winning the first Middle Border Conference match she played in this fall. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

When you watch Jessica Hagman swing a golf club, you'd never imagine that she spent most of a year away from the game.

Hagman may be the longest driver in the Middle Border Conference, striking the ball with a swing that generates a great deal of velocity.

Hagman ended her freshman golf season by winning the WIAA regional tournament and getting her first chance to play at the WIAA sectional tournament. She hopes its not her last. She placed 16th at the Eau Claire Memorial sectional meet in 2016, where she was the highest ranking freshman.

One of her goals is to return to the sectional tournament. Another goal is to qualify for the WIAA Division 1 State Championships. She's hoping the Tigers can qualify for state as a team so she can share the experience with her teammates.

Hagman clearly remembers how and when the knee injury happened, during a game in early August, 2017.

"I went up for a layup. There was no one around me. When I landed, I heard three pops in my knee and it hurt really bad," she recalled.

An MRI provided the news she already knew. She tore the ACL and meniscus in her right knee.

Surgery was done on Aug. 21. The doctors told her it would be six months or more before she could compete again. Through hard work in the weight room, she was back at basketball practice in the middle of her fifth month. She was able to play in three basketball games for the Tigers. The first two games were more to test the knee.

"It was more seeing what my limits were on the court," she said.

The third game was the playoff game against River Falls. She played through pain in the knee, but kept asking to be put back on the court.

"It still hurt often. I realized I was 99 percent back to normal."

Hagman said, in retrospect, she probably shouldn't have come back during the basketball season. But she said being away from sports was anguishing; that it was the longest she'd been without competing since she was 5 years old.

After the basketball season ended, Hagman took a couple months off to let her knee more fully recover. She didn't push her knee during the summer, playing league basketball twice a week. She spent more of the summer playing golf. She said there was some apprehension about playing golf, not knowing how the knee would withstand playing 18 holes, with how her swing is reliant on turning on the injured knee.

Tiger coach Neal Ziller said the injury hasn't been an issue all season. He finally had to ask Hagman about it, because she was so steadied and solid in the opening practices of the season.

Any concerns about the knee were erased in the opening match of the 2018 season. The MBC opener was played at Osceola on Aug. 13. Hagman was ready. She played the course like an expert, shooting a 37 to win her first conference match in two seasons.

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 more than 30 years.

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