Wisconsin high school girls golf culminates season amid pandemic

If 2020 has taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected.

The state girls golf tournament changes courses from its usual finishing point at University Ridge in Madison to Blackwolf Run in Kohler due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

It is the first state championship to be played -- and finished -- since team state wrestling in March.

"I thought this was a really nice change. It is a very, very beautiful course," said Kyley Wippler, a Brookfield Central High School senior. "I think personally it is much tougher than University Ridge, so it is a really good challenge for us."

The golfers also health with the elements. Day 1 saw rain and a weather delayed, so for just the second time in its 49-year history, the 36-hole tournament was shortened to 27.

2020 Wisconsin high school girls state championship at Blackwolf Run in Kohler

Day 2 brought some unrelenting wind. However, nothing could stop the field of 52 golfers who were happy to just get a chance to play for a state title.

"I thought I played in windy conditions until the past two days. It was for sure, probably the most wind I have ever seen on a golf course," said Elisa Hovan, a Cedarburg High School senior.

"I know last year boys' season was canceled. I was talking to some of my friends who are sophomores, and they didn't get to have their freshman year and they were really bummed about it," Jessica Guiser, an Arrowhead High School freshman, said. "I'm really glad we still had the year and we got to finish off the year. 

Jessica Guiser, Arrowhead High School freshman golfer

With a fresh new course to compete on, the state tournament experience doesn't matter as much as in years past -- considering many of the golfers have played at University Ridge the last few tournaments.  

"Every year is a new year. Every round is a new round. You never know what could happen, so I don’t think anything can change," Wippler said.

A change in venue wasn't the only COVID-19 related change. The usual trophy presentation was scaled down. Because of the pandemic, some schools, like Bay Port, decided not to play golf at all this fall.

That left reigning Division I champion Joe Barancyzk unable to defend her title.

"I mean, Jo is one of my best friends. We are going to the same college. We are playing golf there together, so anytime she is in the field, it is a really good quality field," Hovan said. "Unfortunately, she was not able to play, but I hope she does well in the spring."

Brookfield Central wins the 2020 Wisconsin high school girls state golf team championship at Blackwolf Run in Kohler

Now, the girls have crossed the finish line with champions crowned.

Brookfield Central took home the Division I team title, while Arrowhead's Guiser and Cedarburg's Hoven duked it out in a one-hole playoff. In the end, Guiser would win her first state championship. She was the first freshman since 2011 to win a Division I state title.

"It was a little nerve-wracking, but I have played in experiences before where there was a lot of pressure riding on the last hole or last couple shots. That really helped," Guiser said.

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With fall girls gold over, how did the athletes sum up such a unique season?

"Absolutely crazy. Coming into summer, I didn't even know if we were going to play golf," said Wippler. "Thankfully we were able to play, and it has just been a blessing for everything we have been through."

In Division II, Prescott won the team title while Xavier's Lauren Haen took home the individual championship.