MIDDLETON — Portage’s Anna Davidson will be the first to tell you that this hasn’t been the easiest season.
After a downhill start to her junior campaign, her first after losing her father in April, she has come on strong down the stretch, especially at Wednesday’s WIAA Division 1 girls golf regional at Pleasant View Golf Course. Davidson shot a career-low 92 to lead the Warriors and punch her ticket to next Tuesday’s Verona sectional.
“To come back and shoot my personal best on nine and 18 holes felt really good,” Davidson said.
“She just had one of those cases where she was in a zone,” Portage coach Ed Carlson said. “She was swinging well. She swung with tempo today, had a great attitude and it’s so cool to see things come into place like that. Today, she was just determined.”
Opening on the Prairie course, Davidson didn’t shoot worse than a bogey, including pars on the fifth and ninth holes, to card a career-best 43 over the first nine holes. Looking to keep things going over the back half, Davidson started the Woods course with a pair of triple bogeys in the first three holes but rallied to shoot a 49 on the back nine.
“I just kind of had to stay positive,” Davidson said. “I managed to pull it together enough to stay in 40s on the back.”
Carlson added: “She was probably a little emotional after shooting the 43, but came back and was able to put together a solid back nine.”
Behind Davidson’s 92, the Warriors shot a team-best 379, dropping 40 shots off their season average, to finish in fifth place, just nine strokes behind Waunakee (370) for the final team spot at next week’s sectional. While that is a tough pill to swallow, Carlson was thrilled with his team’s performance.
“As a team, we haven’t come close to this type of performance all year long and it’s just a credit to the girls that they were able to put it together at a regional,” he said.
While they missed out as a team, the Warriors got a second individual qualifier in Sophie Denure. In her first regional, the freshman carded a 94 to extend her season at least one more competition.
“I feel like I could have made a couple more putts to maybe have my personal low,” Denure said, “but I scrapped together a pretty decent round.”
Denure opened with a 48 on the front nine, thanks in part to a double bogey and triple bogey on the third and fourth holes. She shaved off a pair of strokes on the back half, shooting a 46 to close her round.
“She had a tough stretch in the beginning, but if you take those holes away, she played really good golf,” Carlson said. “As a freshman that makes it to a sectional coming out of the Middleton regional, it’s pretty impressive.”
Senior McKayla McTier shot a 96 and junior MacKenzie Roth carded a 97 for the Warriors. Playing with a 102-degree fever, McTier opened with a 50 on the front nine but rallied to shoot a 46 on the back half. Roth had a consistent round, shooting a 48 on the front and 49 on the back half.
“She was swinging really good today and what a solid performance for McKayla. She’s got a lot to be proud of for her Portage golf career,” Carlson said. “Kenzie’s another one this year that at times she’s been close and had some real struggles, but I can’t say enough good things about that kid.”
Rachel Hepler rounded out the Warriors’ fivesome with a 117. The sophomore shot a 57 on the front half and a 60 on the back. Hepler had a difficult stretch, shooting three nines and an eight on holes nine through 13, but showed a ton of resiliency.
“The thing that got her in trouble today has kind of been the thing that’s got her in trouble all year, a little bit of inconsistency,” Carlson said. “But nothing fazes her and nothing bothers her.”
While the Warriors’ season is over as a team, Carlson was thrilled with how they competed all year long, especially Wednesday against some of the best competition in the state.
“I’m at a loss for words at how proud I am,” he said. “To shoot that type of score and do it in the regional is really cool and the best thing about it is the smiles on their faces.”
WIAA DIVISION 1 MIDDLETON REGIONAL
Team scores (top four qualify for sectionals): Middleton 341, Madison West 350, Verona 354, Waunakee 370, Portage 379, Madison Memorial 404, Reedsburg 425, Baraboo 430.
Medalist: P.Hodson, Mid, 79.
Individual sectional qualifiers: 1, McCarthy, MM, 90; 2, Davidson, P, 92; 3, Beyer, R, 94; 4, Denure, P, 94.
Portage: Anna Davidson 43-49–92; Sophie Denure 46-48–94; McKayla McTier 50-46–96; Kenzie Roth 48-49–97; Rachel Hepler 57-60–117.
At Pleasant View Golf Course