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Badger senior Krystal Cooke hits a shot off the fairway Friday at Delbrook.

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Gaugert
August 17, 2011 | 07:53 AM
Last year was a landmark season for the Badger girls varsity golf team.

In its seventh season as a program, the squad won its first Southern Lakes title under first-year coach Phil Huff. Although the team lost three of its top five players, reigning SLC player of the year Annie Gaugert and a couple strong newcomers have Huff thinking conference title or bust.

"I'm very excited about our lineup," Huff said. "The seniors were really good, but we have a really good No. 3 this year in Kate Russell, who won conference on junior varsity last year. Also, Krystal Cooke, who played two years of varsity at Wilmot, will plug a huge hole left by the seniors. Winning the SLC is our initial goal, and it is definitely a possibility."

Russell, who will play the No. 3 slot, and Cooke (No. 4), will fill voids left by Claire Schneider (last year's No. 2), Bergen Quaerna (No. 3) and Laura Fortner (No. 5). Gaugert will play the No. 1 spot for the fourth straight year, and stepping up in the No. 2 hole will be senior Lana Wieseman, a three-sport star who earned second team all-SLC honors last year as the No. 4.

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Cooke comes from a golfing family.

The senior's brother, Kyle, was a state-qualifying performer for Wilmot last year. After playing for Wilmot's varsity her first two years, she didn't play golf last season.

Along with Russell, who Huff is expecting big things from, Badger welcomes varsity newcomers Sydney Davis, a junior, and Allison Paleka, a sophomore. Huff also mentioned solid potential in freshman Molly Keenan. Huff said he expects a learning curve with several girls on the team new to the sport.

"We have four solid girls," he said. "And we're trying to get the newcomers up to speed."

So far, the girls are playing like defending conference champs. On Friday in a 12-team scramble at Delbrook, Badger took first place with a 147. Gaugert and Wieseman fired a 72, while Cooke and Russell shot a 75. Last Thursday, in a four-person scramble at Evergreen, Badger shot a 3-under 69, good for second place behind Brookfield East's 66 in the 12-team tournament. Paleka replaced Cooke in the lineup. In the same event last year, Badger shot a 71. Huff was impressed with his top player.

"Gaugert played really, really well," he said. "She would like to get to a point where she can get to the state meet, either individually or as a team. It would be really exciting."

Badger advanced to sectionals last year, and Huff is hoping the team can back to that level, but it starts with the SLC.

"Elkhorn will be good, but we should do very well in conference," he said. "We want to post better scores in playoffs, too, but that's a long way off. It's about starting small and getting to that point. We want to see the general trend of improving. With golf, you're never going to be better every single time out there."

The Badgers will get their first taste of home cooking in the Westosha Invite Wednesday at Hawk's View, the first of three invites before conference play opens Aug. 23 against Westosha Central. Huff said his team still has to work out some early season kinks.

"I've been very pleased with what I've seen so far," he said. "But we need some experience with the younger girls. I want to see the girls have fun and learn about distances. Most are still struggling with how far they hit shots. We need to work on our chipping and putting. For a lot of girls, these are their first experiences on a full golf course."

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