Fillmore Central sweeps titles at Section 1A meet
Five years ago, Madison Scheevel was a seventh-grader who showed no fear stepping onto the big stage of the Class A girls golf state meet.
Next week, Scheevel will play in the state meet, at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker, for the sixth and final time.
She’ll go there this year as a section medalist and one of the favorites – if not the favorite – to become the state medalist. And she’ll take the same no-fear attitude she had as a seventh-grader along with her.
“I just … I play how I play,” the Fillmore Central senior said after firing a final-round 78 Thursday to finish the Section One, Class A meet with a two-round total of 163 and a five-shot win over runner-up Jenna Wiebke of Caledonia. “Nothing is going to change that. I have high expectations for myself, but it should be fun at state. It’s just another round of golf now.”
Scheevel won’t make the trip to Becker alone.
For the sixth straight year, Fillmore Central won the Section 1A team championship. Led by Scheevel – the team’s lone senior – the Falcons used a balanced and deep lineup to finish the two-day section meet with a total score of 753. They edged Caledonia by 11 strokes for the championship.
Hailey Lange (third place, 189) and Taylor Bushman (fourth place, 193) also finished in the top four individually for the Falcons.
“It’s really a team tournament and that’s how we approach it,” Falcons coach Aaron Mensink said. “We never know which four scores we’ll use. We know Madison will be our leader. She struggled a bit on Tuesday and that fueled her fire today to shoot 78.”
A big swing for the Falcons came courtesy of eighth-grader Courtney Hershberger. She cut 14 shots off her first-round total, shooting a final-round 108. The Falcons used that as their fourth score (a team’s total is calculated by using the scores from the top four of its six players).
Hershberger is one of three Falcons who will play at the state meet for the first time, along with fellow eighth-grader Chloe Morem and freshman Marissa Topness. That trio has been solid for the Falcons this season, with one of them always stepping up to fill the team’s fourth score.
“Taylor, our No. 2 all year, she battled and grinded it out (Thursday),” Mensink said. “Hailey has been great as our No. 3, she’s been right there with Taylor.
“Then our fourth spot has been youth, whoever can come up with a good round. Today it was our eighth-grader, Courtney Hershberger. She was great, cut 14 shots off (her first-round score). She’s a great ball-striker and did a good job today. It’s all a team game.”
Fillmore Central has finished no lower than third in the state each of the past five years, including winning a state championship in 2016. But Mensink said the Falcons young players can go to Becker in two weeks and use the state meet as a valuable learning tool.
“This is key,” he said. “It’s how we build things and the formula for our program. We have our older girls and (their experience) works its way down to our younger girls. Those younger girls will get to see the course for the first time. They’ll gain some experience and build on it from there.”
Scheevel will use her past experiences at the state meet to help her younger teammates, who will likely feel the state-meet nerves that Scheevel has often been able to brush aside.
“We’ll work on hitting bigger clubs and longer distances because the state course plays a lot longer than (the section meet),” she said. “But just making it there is a huge accomplishment and will be a really good experience for our younger girls for the future.
“It helps a lot to have been there. You get used to having a lot of people follow your group. Every time you can play a course, the more familiar you are with it, you know where to go and where not to go. It really helps.”
And she could come home this year with a state championship.
“She’s definitely capable,” Mensink said. “If she puts together two solid days like she’s capable of doing, like she did in the conference tournament and like she did today, she definitely can do it.”
Four Caledonia golfers also qualified for the state meet, as individuals. Wiebke (section runner-up, 168); Gina Steele (fifth place, 197); Vanessa Hawkins (sixth, 198) and Ally Jilek (seventh, 201) qualified, as did Hayfield eighth-grader Macy Holtan (eighth place, 203).