VERONA — Before the season, coach David DeShambo said he hoped that the Badger boys golf team would improve on a ninth-place finish in the Division 1 state tournament from a year ago.
And improve the Badgers did.
Badger shot a total score of 644 at University Ridge Golf Course in Verona to finish eighth in the 16-team field at a combined 68-over-par.
“We played OK,” said DeShambo. “We would have liked to play better — our expectations were to play a little better. I don’t want to say we played poorly, we just didn’t have anybody that played to the top of their game and that’s why we finished right in the middle of the pack.”
Arrowhead shot a 26-over-par 602 to claim its fifth state championship in the last nine years. Marquette finished runner-up just four shots behind.
Entering the state tournament, which took place over two days on June 5 and 6, Badger had achieved each goal that DeShambo had set for the team prior to the season.
The Badgers reached their first goal on May 15, claiming their third straight Southern Lakes Conference crown by a 17-shot margin over the rest of the field.
Badger carried that success into regionals, where the team finished 18 shots clear of the opposition on May 24 to continue its progression through postseason play.
Six days later, on May 30, Badger hosted its sectional at Geneva National, and again the Badgers came out on top.
With victory in each of the three tournaments, the Badgers successfully met all of the milestones they had set out to reach before the season began.
Well, except for one.
The Badgers’ final goal was also the team’s loftiest, with the players hoping to improve on last year’s standing against Wisconsin’s elite.
Badger came out on day one of the state tournament and shot 326, placing the Lake Geneva boys in ninth place, 23 shots behind first-place Arrowhead after 18 holes.
Jackson Rademaker paced the Badgers with an 80 on day one, posting a pair of birdies.
Connor Duggan was right behind him with an 81, while Jonathan Duggan shot 82 and Blake Wisdom fired an 83 to round out the day one scores for the Lake Geneva boys.
Kirby Befort’s 88 was not counted toward the team’s total score.
Day two of competition saw improved scores for most of the team.
Connor Duggan led the way with a 6-over-par 78. Duggan had the best finish individually among the five Badgers, shooting 159 to tie for 34th place.
Rademaker posted another 80 on day two and finished with a total of 160, tied for 41st individually.
Jonathan Duggan shot a 79, three shots better than his round-one score to finish at 161 and Blake Wisdom improved by two shots, firing an 81 in round two for a 164 total.
Despite a middle-of-the-road finish at states, DeShambo said the team should still be proud of their season.
“There’s always disappointment when you don’t play as well as you’d like to,” said DeShambo.
“The whole experience of just being there and being a part of the state tournament, I think the disappointment wears off fairly quickly and you’re able to look back on your season — winning conference, regionals and sectionals for the third year in a row — yeah, the kids are a little disappointed but I think we knew we weren’t one of the best teams in the state.”
DeShambo added that the team’s scoring averages were some of the best during his 11-year tenure as Badger coach and that the season as a whole should be seen as a success.
“We played in 15 events during the year and won nine of them,” he said while reflecting on the season.
“So you can look back and feel pretty good about where you’re at but then you can look back and see what you need to do for next year. But overall, the guys had a good time, had a lot of success and improved which is what it’s all about.”