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Toppers’ golf team takes third at sectional; Hierlmeier earned second straight trip to state

MARATHON — For a second straight year, a team berth in the WIAA State Golf tournament eluded the grasp of the Glenwood City golf team.

The Hilltoppers finished third in a strong WIAA Division 3 Marathon Sectional field last Tuesday, June 2. Glenwood City shot a 342, just a stroke better than its score at last year’s sectional meet, on the par-71 Pine Valley Golf Course.

The Macks of Chippewa Falls McDonell Central, led by junior medalist Thomas Longbella, won its second consecutive sectional crown with a score of 320 while Spring Valley finished second with a strong 18-hole performance of 326.

Only the top two teams from the sectional meet advanced to play in the state tournament held Monday and Tuesday, June 8 and 9 at University Golf Course in Madison.

Host Marathon, Hurley and Cadott all finished within a few strokes of one another. Marathon placed fourth after tallying 353 on its home course, Hurley was just a place and stroke back in fifth with 354 and Cadott shot a 355 to take sixth. They were followed by Eleva-Strum at 369, Cumberland with a 375, Ladysmith and Chequamegon had 378, Unity shot a 403 and Birchwood was last after scoring 410.

“As a team, we did not play our best golf,” stated Ron Johnson, Glenwood City’s head coach.

The Hilltoppers, however, did find a silver lining in an otherwise disappointing finish to the season.

Senior Jacob Hierlmeier qualified as an individual state tournament participant for a second straight year. Hierlmeier, who shot a 77 at Pine Valley and finished in a fifth-place tie, was one of three individuals from a non-qualifying sectional team to make the state meet field. In all, this is Hierlmeier’s third consecutive trip to University Ridge as he played on the Toppers’ 2013 team that made it to state.

“Jake had a very good round of golf,” noted Johnson of Hierlmeier’s sectional performance.

“Every since his freshman year, Jake has been one of the most consistent golfers in our area.”

Hierlmeier finished tied with Fall Creek’s Eric Reetz, who also shot a 77 to grab a state qualifying spot. Thomas Longbella of McDonell Central, as mentioned previously, took the sectional’s top individual honor for the second straight year with a fantastic 3-under par 68.  Spring Valley freshman Tyler Leach finished second with a 74. Leach’s junior teammate Jason Richardson along with Hurley senior Jacob Tenlen, the other individual state qualifier, carded 76s.

As for the rest of the Toppers’ varsity roster, Nathan Mrdutt tallied an 85 on the sectional course as fellow junior Garret Schemionek followed just a shot back at 86. Senior Bill Norenberg wrapped up his prep golf career by shooting a 94. Freshman Collin Schone had a tough finish to the season as he was disqualified for a violation of golf rules.

The disqualification did not affect the Toppers’ team score as only the top four individual scores are added together to get the team score.

Hierlmeier shook off a slow start that saw him double bogey and bogey the first two holes at Pine Valley. Hierlmeier then shot a birdie on three and parred four of the final six holes to finish with a 39 on the front nine holes. The Hilltoppers’ senior was able to shave a stroke off that pace over the final nine as he parred seven of the holes.

Like Hierlmeier, Nate Mrdutt was able to register a stroke from the first nine to the final nine after he shot for a 43 and 42 respectively for an overall tally of 85. Mrdutt shot par on holes one and two but recorded six straight fives on holes three through eight for bogeys or double bogeys. Mrdutt’s lone birdie came on number 11 where he finished with a four.

Despite a three-over par on hole one, Garret Schemionek recovered to finish with a 41 on the front nine which included a birdie on the par-three ninth. Schemionek added four strokes on the back nine to finish with a 45 for a final score of 86.

Bill Norenberg shot a 45 one holes one through nine and then hit for a 49 on the final nine holes to finish with a 94. The senior also parred three holes.

Collin Schone finished the 18-hole tournament without a score after incorrectly applying a golf rule for a lost shot. Apparently Schone was unable to find his tee shot on the second hole and instead of hitting from the tee box again, as required by rule, the freshman dropped another ball close to where he thought he had lost his original and hit the shot. The innocent mistake drew an immediate disqualification but Schone was allowed to continue golfing.

This was Glenwood City’s fourth straight appearance in a sectional golf meet and six in the past seven years.