Wildcats Win M&O Conference Crown; McVane is POY

Braden McVane locked up M&O Player of the Year honors and his Lena Wildcats solidified their stronghold on the M&O Conference title at Thursday’s final M&O Conference meet at Vernon Hills.
McVane had a five-stroke lead over Saint Thomas Aquinas Academy’s Kaiden Bailey going into the final nine-hole event, a make-up for a previous cancellation.
McVane shot a 38. Despite Bailey’s 35, he fell just short.
“He was determined to make a run for the Player of the Year award again this season but could not overcome the lead that Braden McVane had over him,” STAA coach George Hayes said. “Braden has had an outstanding season.”
McVane won or tied for medalist in the first four events of the season, shooting sub-40 every time, including 36s at Riverside and Oak Crest and a 35 at Hunter’s Glen.
“Those were definitely the big ones that I needed,” McVane said. “I did not set a big goal for myself. I just kind of came in, wanted to play good golf all year, try and keep it in the 30s, and I did, so I was happy with that.”
McVane said his goal Thursday was to “play it smart” and hang on to his five-stroke lead, but after Bailey birdied his first three holes, it looked like Bailey might actually have a shot at catching him.
“It definitely got a little interesting after three holes, but it came around and it feels good. It feels really good,” McVane said.
Bailey made the M&O first team along with Lena’s Drake Dionne and Mason Belongia and Oneida Nation’s Jonas Johnson.
The second team was Crivitz’s Kade Thoma, Jack Bauer, and Kaden Klaver, and Lena’s Evan VanderZanden and Mason Spice.
There was little doubt about the team championship coming into Thursday, as Lena had a big lead over second-place Crivitz, but the Wildcats shot a 161 and wrapped things up for their second straight M&O Conference title.
“We’ve been very consistent. We’ve been consistently going down, and today was our best round,” Lena coach John Moe said. “We shot a 161, so that’s our best nine, and the last time out for 18 for Thornberry we shot our best 18, so we’re trending in the right direction.”
On Thursday, Dionne shot a 40, followed by Belongia’s 41, a 42 from VanderZanden, and Spice’s 48.
Oneida was second on Thursday with a 174 and Crivitz shot a 180.
Klaver shot a 43, Bauer carded a 44, Thoma shot a 46, TJ Mueller scored a 47, and Dylan Reindl’s 53 was dropped.
Coleman carded a 185 as a team, led by Sawyer Seefeldt (41). Next were Thomas Rhode (44), Evan Hockers (49), Scott Brazeau (51), and Cameron Kimmell (52).
Gillett shot a 190. Tyler Frank shot a 44, Elsa Limberg scored a 46, and both Aydin Franti and Laney DeBauch finished with 50. Katelyn Sturm shot a 60.
STAA was sixth with a 202 on Thursday. After Bailey’s 35 was Henry Piasecki with 47, Chase Gromala with 53, and Ryan Tuch with 67.
Niagara’s Nate Olsen shot a 45, followed by Nick Krueger (52), Oren Loukus (53), Alex Tripp (58), and Aiden Colenso (61).

Cavaliers Qualify  
for D3  Sectional;
Bailey Claims
Medalist Honors

A great back nine saved the day for Saint Thomas Aquinas Academy as the Cavaliers qualified for sectionals from Tuesday’s regional in Lakewood.
Playing at McCauslin Brook Golf Club, the Cavaliers collectively shot 31 strokes better on the back nine than they did on the front nine, led by star junior Kaiden Bailey, who cut his score from 41 to 34 on the back nine to earn the medalist crown.
“Things were not looking good for Kaiden who is usually on top of his game,” STAA coach George Hayes said. “But he really attacked the final holes and earned medalist honors while also helping the entire team make it to the next round.”
Theron Thayer improved his output from 53 to 42 to finish with 95 and Henry Piasecki shot 45 and 46 for a 91.
Chase Gromala’s 60 on the front nine improved to a 49 on the back as well. Tayen Schwartz’s 135 was dropped.
“I am really proud of how our players showed so much determination and never gave up after such a slow start,” Hayes said. “Other than Henry, our other golfers had an extremely tough front nine.”
Things were looking so dire that Hayes felt the season might be coming to an end, but the Cavaliers wouldn’t go down that easy.
“I thought our season was over when we made the turn,” he said. “Everyone was talking about how poorly they were playing, but then they decided that they wanted to play at least one more week and made it happen.”
Two Crivitz golfers, Niagara’s Nate Olsen, and Coleman’s Thomas Rhode all advanced to sectionals, to be held at Hunter’s Glen on Tuesday, with top-four individual performances by golfers not on qualifying teams.
The Wolverines’ Kaden Klaver tied for seventh overall with an 88 and Kade Thoma tied for 11th with a 94. Among the others tied for 11th was Olsen, and Rhode tied for 16th with a 95.
The rest of the Crivitz, Coleman, Niagara, Goodman/Pembine, and Florence golfers saw their seasons come to a close.
G/P’s Joshua Knutson and Crivitz’s TJ Mueller were each one stroke short of a shot at advancing, tying for 18th with 96.
Crivitz was one spot short of qualifying as a team, shooting a 386 and taking fifth. After Klaver, Thoma, and Mueller were juniors Jack Bauer and Liam Lazansky, who shot 108 and 122, respectively.
Coleman was sixth as a team with a 397 team score. Cameron Kimmell shot a 98 and Sawyer Seefeldt shot a 103. Seniors Scott Brazeau and Evan Hockers finished their Coleman careers with 101 and 110, respectively.
Niagara was seventh at 444. Juniors Mason Richtig and Oren Loukus shot 100 and 116 and seniors Nick Krueger and Aiden Colenso carded 134 and 138, respectively.
G/P took ninth with a 471, led by Knutson, a sophomore. juniors Pietro Ipsa (123), Jasmine Slawinski (124), and Marley Severson (167) are back next year, while senior Joshua Wysocki (128) will depart.
Florence shot a 495 and took 10th. Seniors Gavin Holdaway and Kathn Short signed off with 104 and 152, while juniors Zach Boettcher and Logan Thompson shot 117 and 122.

Wildcats Win D3
Regional Crown,
Dionne Earns
Co-Medalist Honors

Lena can add “regional champs” to its list of accomplishments for the 2023 golf season after shooting a 332 at the Division 3 regional in Cecil on Tuesday.
Wildcat junior Drake Dionne had probably his best round of the year on the most important stage so far, tying for medalist honors with a 78.
Wildcats Mason Belongia and Braden McVane were amongst three players tying for sixth with 83, Mason Spice tied for 12th with an 88, and Evan VanderZanden tied for 18th with a 95.
The top four teams out of nine and the top four individuals not on qualifying teams earned spots at sectionals. Gillett and Oconto’s seasons each came to an end with seventh and eighth-place finishes, respectively.
For Oconto, Marc Perrizo shot a 106, Connor Huggett carded a 110, Eli Bahrke shot a 111, and Jacob LeMere rounded things out with a 122. All four will be back in blue and yellow next year.
Gillett seniors Elsa Limberg and Laney DeBauch shot 105 and 115, respectively. Juniors Aydin Franti and Tyler Frank shot 100 and 106 and freshman Katelyn Sturm carded a 108.

Panthers Advance to
D-2 Sectional, Bauman,
Smerchek and Eastman
Move On

Oconto Falls and three individuals from Marinette and Peshtigo qualified for sectionals from regional action in Iola on Monday.
After Mosinee (329) and Amherst (347) took gold and silver from the team rankings, Oconto Falls shot a 368 to take third.
Playing at Glacier Woods Golf Club, Kadyn Riel shot an 85 to finish seventh of 48 competitors. All five Panthers were under 100, with Caden Leonhardt and Trevor Metzler each shooting 93s, Matthew Behnke carding a 97, and Cy Vizelka shooting a 98.
The top four teams advanced, with Wittenberg-Birnamwood fourth. Marinette’s fifth-place finish at 383 put the Marines one spot short of advancing.
Mosinee junior Jett Walters shot a 68 to win the individual crown, followed by Peshtigo’s Grant Bauman, who advanced as one of the top four individuals not on a qualifying team.
“G played a smart and well-executed round of golf. His goal was to minimize risk and enjoy the walk around the course while shooting the best individual qualifying score,” Peshtigo coach Kyle Cheney said. “He kept the driver in the bag, leaning fairway metals and irons from the tee. His accuracy was spot on as he basically walked right down the middle of each fairway, which is saying a lot as Glacier Wood is tightly and heavily tree-lined.”
Marinette’s Dominic Smerchek was 11th in the 48-golfer field with an 87. Along with teammate Brady Eastman, who shot a 90, he qualified for sectionals.
“Tough and demanding course. Dom and Brady stuck with it through some really difficult holes to snag the third and fourth spots,” Marinette coach Bill Langlois said.
Smerchek, a senior, will see his career in purple and white continue. Freshman AJ Behnke (101) and juniors Henry Bailey (105) and Bryce Gamelin (109) saw their seasons end, though they’ll be back next year.
“Really proud of the whole team for keeping their heads up. Everyone gained a lot of experience yesterday that will help them over their high school career,” Langlois said. “It was a day if we would have done a little better around the greens the team would have made it on to sectionals.”
Peshtigo was seventh as a team with a 410. Juniors Peyton Demmith and Maddox Levknecht shot 102 and 129, respectively, while seniors Mark Pesch (115) and Achal Gowda (120) competed in their final match for Peshtigo.



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