Shawano golf team qualifies for sectionals

Bonduel secures spot in D2 sectionals
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Leader Photo by Jacy Zollar Shawano Community High School senior Brinley Kowalkowski hits a driver at the WIAA Division 1 regional at Brown County Golf Course on Wednesday.

Leader Photo by Jacy Zollar Shawano Community High School senior Brinley Kowalkowski eyes her putt at the WIAA Division 1 regional at Brown County Golf Course on Wednesday.

Shawano and Bonduel both advanced to WIAA sectionals Wednesday with fourth-place finishes in their respective divisions.

Shawano secured the final qualifying spot at the Division 1 regional at Brown County Golf Course in Oneida. Bonduel advanced through the Division 2 regional at Mid Vallee Golf Club in De Pere.

This is the first time Shawano has qualified for sectionals during head coach Dean Kugler’s five years with the team.

“This is a huge step for us,” Kugler said. “Normally we can’t keep up with the top teams, so for us to be able to play alongside them and qualify for the next round is a big accomplishment.”

The Hawks, who were just shy of sectionals last year with a fifth-place finish, shot a 405, finishing behind Notre Dame (385), Bay Port (386) and Pulaski (388).

Shawano was led by all-conference first team seniors Brianna Zook (91) and Brinley Kowalkowski (98) on the par-73 course.

“Brinley’s the key to our team,” Kugler said. “Brianna is always our top player, Kennedy (Klemens) is consistent, but if Brinley’s doing well, the team does well. She gave us that edge today.”

Klemens (104), freshman Taylor Johnson (112) and sophomore Kiley Rusch (123) rounded out the Hawks’ scoring.

Zook qualified for sectionals individually the past two years but is excited to go with her team this year. She finished third behind Bay Port’s Jo Baranczyk (75) and Pulaski’s Madi Winter (86).

“I think it’s a huge accomplishment to go as a team because at the beginning of the year we were shooting 450s, and to cut almost 50 strokes off is great,” Zook said. “Seeing my teammates’ improvement makes me proud and I’m glad they get to experience what it’s like to go to sectionals.”

Zook, Kowalkowski and Klemens played in the No. 1, 2 and 3 positions, respectively, and Kugler thinks the competitiveness contributed to their scores.

“They played with girls on three of the best teams in northeastern Wisconsin and they felt like they could play right along with them,” Kugler said. “It really boosted their mentality seeing that they were capable of playing at that level, and that’s one of the main reasons we did so well.”

Shawano returns to Thornberry Creek in Oneida on Tuesday for sectional play. The team played on the course earlier this season, and Kugler thinks the familiarity will help.

“The girls know the course well, and it’s no tougher than where they played today, which was a new course to them,” he said. “So I think that comfort level ups our chances of playing competitively with the other teams even more.”

Bonduel (412) finished behind Fox Valley Lutheran (369), Xavier (375) and Marinette (388).

Jessie LaBerge (93) led the Bears with a sixth-place finish, followed by Mariah Diemel (102), Kylie Guenther (104), Alex Berkhahn (113) and Kayla Wagester (115).

Bonduel will play in the Catholic Memorial Sectional at Broadlands Golf Course in North Prairie on Tuesday.

Fox Valley Lutheran’s Erika Priebe (75) posted the best score of the tournament.

WIAA Division 1 regional

Brown County Golf Course

Team scores: Notre Dame, 385; Bay Port, 386; Pulaski, 388; Shawano, 405; D.C. Everest, 429; Seymour, 446; Ashwaubenon, 457.

WIAA Division 2 regional

Mid Vallee Golf Club

Team scores: Fox Valley Lutheran, 369; Xavier, 375; Marinette, 388; Bonduel, 412; Freedom, 412; Little Chute, 421; Oconto Falls, 471; Oconto, 504.