Casey Johnson has a good problem on his hands.
Coaching in one of the toughest sectionals in Wisconsin, the Oregon head coach figured he might get one golfer through to the state meet. If that was the case, Johnson was looking forward to spending the entire state round with his lone qualifier.
Emily Hopp and Addison Sabel put a wrinkle into that plan.
Hopp and Sabel both qualified for the state meet during a WIAA Division 1 sectional on Monday, Oct. 4, at Foxboro Golf Club.
“It’s been a few years since Oregon has qualified anybody,” Johnson said. “To get not one, but two golfers is amazing.”
Looks like Johnson will need some help at University Ridge.
“We have a good assistant coach so we’re going to have a blast with those two next week,” Johnson said.
Hopp led Oregon to a WIAA Division 1 regional championship five days earlier on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at Odana Hills Golf Course in Madison.
Hopp and Sabel both carded 81s to earn two of the three individual state qualifier spots.
“This is by far my biggest achievement in my golf career,” said Sabel, who is a freshman. “I am grateful for my team and all the talent, which enabled us to get to sectionals. I look forward to representing Oregon girls golf at state.”
Hopp, a senior, tied for 19th at Oregon’s sectional meet last season.
“Qualifying for state means the world to me,” Hopp said. “Since I started playing high school golf, it is all I have dreamed of. I watched my brother play in the state tournament his senior year, so getting to follow in his footsteps is very special to our family.”
Middleton senior Ellie Frisch tied for first with a 72 to lead the Cardinals to a sectional championship with a team score of 319. Waunakee sophomore Izzi Stricker tied for first with Frisch with a 72, leading the Warriors to a runner-up finish with a 321. Oregon placed third with a 339. The top two teams from the sectional advanced to state.
“Heading into the season we knew Waunakee was really good, so we knew we needed to improve,” Johnson said. “We improved a lot and they improved a lot as well.”
Johnson said the Panthers hung with Middleton and Waunakee on the first nine, but the No.1-ranked Cardinals and No.8-ranked Warriors pulled away on the back nine.
Hopp and Sabel tied for fourth overall out of 48 golfers. Baraboo senior Caroline Lewison was the third and final individual qualifier. She finished seventh with an 82.
Hopp carded a 41 on the front nine and a 40 on the back nine.
“I had success with all parts of my game, but my recovery from poor tee shots was probably my strength,” Hopp said. “Today was one of those days where I had to just keep plugging away and focusing on the next shot. I had some bad shots with every aspect of my game also, but it was pushing the bad shots out of my head that kept me in contention to gain a trip to state.”
Sabel — the Panthers’ No. 3 golfer — shot a 42 on the front and followed it up with a 39 on the back.
“My chipping was definitely on today, which helped get me in better spots with my putter,” Sabel said. “I was able to put myself in good spots off the tee.”
Sabel started off the sectional with a 7.
“She just forgot about that bad hole,” Johnson said. “You have to if you’re in the same grouping as Middleton and Waunakee.”
Sabel finished fourth among the Oregon roster at the regional meet.
“That was her best 18 of the year,” Johnson said. “She’s been our third or fourth best golfer on the team this year. I know what she’s capable of, but I was not expecting her to card an 81 today. That was a great surprise.”
Oregon freshman Delainey Halverson finished 15th with an 85. Sophomore Drew Hoffer rounded out the Panthers’ scoring with a 92. Freshman Riley Jackson carded a 95.
Oregon had the top three freshmen golfers at the sectional meet.
Sun Prairie finished fourth with a 354, while Reedsburg — who won the Badger West title over Oregon — placed fifth with a 360.
Hopp and Sabel will represent Oregon at the WIAA Division 1 state meet, which will be held Monday, Oct. 11 and Tuesday, Oct. 12 at University Ridge Golf Course.
“I am very excited to have Addi joining me at the state tournament,” Hopp said. “It is comforting to know she will be there with me every step of the way.”
“With Emily being a senior on the team, she has been a role model for everyone, including me,” Sabel said. “So I am definitely looking forward to playing with her at state.”
Madison Memorial Regional
Hopp carded a 77 to finish first out of 37 golfers. Hopp’s score was six strokes better than Madison Memorial’s Natalie Rauwolf’s 83, which was good for second place. The Oregon senior fired a 36 on the front nine and a 41 on the back nine.
“It seems like when Emily is driving the ball well, she plays really well,” Johnson said. “She was driving the ball really well that day.”
The Panthers collected 340 strokes to run away with the regional that was hosted by Madison Memorial.
“It was a big deal,” Johnson said. “We not only played really well, but we were 47 strokes ahead of second place. We had five of the golfers in the top 11. It just felt really good to be at the end of the season and playing really good golf.”
Verona earned-runner up honors with a 387. Mount Horeb and Monona Grove advanced to sectionals with scores of 391 and 393, respectively. The top four teams made it out of regionals.
Oregon’s four scoring golfers all placed in the top seven.
Hoffer and Halverson tied for fourth overall with 87s. Both shot 42s on the front nine and 45s on the back. The Panthers were rounded out by Sabel’s 89. Riley Jackson carded a 93.
Rauwolf, Madison La Follette’s Angelina Myhr, Stoughton’s Dulce Gefke and McFarland’s Megan Gates all qualified for sectionals as individuals. The top four golfers from non-qualifying sectional teams moved on from regionals.