In recent years, the Badger boys golf team has been one of the best golf teams in southern Wisconsin, making the state meet for five years straight and nine of the 13 seasons that Dave DeShambo has been coach.
This year, the Badgers ended up with the best finish during that five-season streak, taking third place with a score of 623 as a team in the event at University Ridge in Madison on June 3-4.
The third place by Badger beat out their previous best fourth-place finish from 2015.
A big part of that solid team score was thanks to senior Blake Wisdom, who shot a 145 in the two-day event to tie for third place overall in Division 1.
However, in the first round of play, Wisdom was even better than that, shooting a 70 to lead all 104 golfers at the end of round one. While he could tell he was playing a good round when he was on the course, Wisdom did not know just how well he was doing.
“The whole time I was out there, I hit a lot of good shots. And the mistakes I made, I felt like I made it up with pretty good putts. When I was making putts, I knew it was going to be a good day, but I didn’t know where I stood,” Wisdom said.
During the second day, Wisdom played well again, shooting a 75. But a couple of players who were just one shot below him in the first round had even better days, allowing them to jump above him in the final standings.
Even though he was not able to earn the state championship crown, the third-place finish was a good way for Wisdom to go out on top.
“I definitely was a little bummed out, but I mean top three at state was definitely awesome,” Wisdom said. “It was a great way to end my high school career.”
A solid score at the top was one crucial part of Badger’s success, but having players at the bottom of the roster do well was another important aspect of their tournament performance.
On the first day of competition, freshman T.J. Walton had a good day, shooting an 80, while junior Carter Parent had a tough time with a 91. On day two, it was Parent who stepped up with a 77, while Walton shot a 90.
By getting timely performances, the Badgers were able to drop their worst score each day and get out unscathed.
“If you get two guys that don’t play well on the same day, it’s pretty tough to have a good finish. We were able to have the right guys play well and put four good scores together both days,” DeShambo said.
Rounding out Badger’s scores were senior Ben Rademaker, who shot an 81 and 83, and sophomore Luke Abram, who carded a 75 and an 82.
After coming into the state tournament expected to finish in the middle of the pack, the Badgers feel like they pulled off a bit of an upset with their third-place team finish.
“The guys worked hard over the season, and we definitely earned our third place and probably shocked the state a little bit,” Wisdom said.
The Badgers were not the only area golfers hitting the links at University Ridge, though, as Williams Bay senior Thomas Korsholm also competed in the event as an individual in Division 3.
After leading the Bulldogs to the school’s first golf regional championship, and then clinching a spot in the state meet with the best score in the field on the back nine at sectional, Korsholm already had a postseason to remember before the state championship even began.
He added another strong performance on June 3 and 4, shooting a 122 to tie for ninth place out of 52 competitors.
While this was Korsholm’s first time in the state meet, he and coach Jon Tomaszewski played a practice round in the days before the championship to get a lay of the land. Even then, it is tough to replicate the state meet’s atmosphere.
“It’s a different experience at the state meet. You golf the whole season, and it’s just you and the people you’re playing with. Then at the state meet, you’ve got 30 people following you around, so it’s a little bit different,” Tomaszewski said.
During the first day, Korsholm did well, shooting an 80 to put him in a tie for eighth overall. He was on another solid pace in the second day of competition, shooting a 42 on the front nine, before inclement weather forced the Division 3 second day to end after nine holes.
Given his comeback heroics at the sectional meet, and the fact that he was only three strokes behind sixth place, if Korsholm and the rest of the field had been able to play the back nine, he could have done even better than he did.
"I was starting to swing really well towards the end of the front nine and got a bit of momentum going," Korsholm said. "I always feel like I play better on the back nine because I'm less nervous and swinging well. I thought I definitely could've done better, but it is what it is."
While he may not have won the state title, Korsholm’s top-10 performance was good enough to bring together the tight-knit Williams Bay High School.
“I know a lot of kids came out and supported Thomas at the state meet. They were excited, and that’s the cool thing about the small school; you get that family or community feel to it where everybody supports everyone and wants everyone to succeed,” Tomaszewski said.