The first state tournament appearance in the 69-year history of the Union Grove High School boys golf team came down to the final hole Tuesday.
Simon Graham made it happen.
The senior No. 1 player for the Broncos made a birdie on the final hole to lock up medalist honors — and his team’s first trip to state — at the WIAA Division 1 Brookfield Central Sectional.
Graham finished with a 2-over-par 73 and Union Grove totaled 322 to take second place, one shot behind sectional champion Brookfield East (321) and, more importantly, one shot ahead of third-place Muskego (323).
The scores were very close in the sectional. Fourth-place Waterford, which had freshmen Jackson Heath and Robbie Meyers qualify for state as individuals, totaled 325 and fifth-place Case was at 331.
Broncos coach Eric Swanson was still taking it all in Tuesday.
“It was a crazy day,” said Swanson, whose team won its first-ever regional title last week. “It was awesome to finally get over the hump. The kids have worked hard for this and it’s fun to see it pay off.
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“We don’t have to say we’ve never been (to state) before.”
Without the strong recovery of the team on the second nine, and the decisive final hole by Graham, it may not have happened at all.
Swanson said the team played the back nine first and was a cumulative 17-over par after nine holes. But on the first six holes of the second nine, playing in a brisk wind, the Broncos were 21-over on those holes and in danger of coming up just short again.
Meanwhile, Waterford’s round was done and the 325 the Wolverines posted had a chance of holding up up.
“I said ‘we’re going to get passed up by Waterford,’ ” Swanson said. “I didn’t know what happened.”
However, just as quickly as the Broncos started sinking, they righted the ship and played the final three holes in a cumulative even-par.
Graham put the cap on the round on the 569-yard, par-5 ninth hole, the 18th hole of the round.
Union Grove and Muskego were tied coming to the hole, essentially making it match play between Graham and Muskego’s No. 1 player, senior Joseph Drana.
Swanson said Graham “crushed” his drive, then hit a 6-iron to reach the green in two. Graham two-putted for birdie, while Drana just missed a birdie and the Broncos’ celebration could begin.
It was the second straight week Graham pulled off last-minute heroics. At last week’s St. Catherine’s/Lutheran Regional at Ives Grove Golf Links in Yorkville, Graham overcame an errant drive and bad second shot on the par-5 final hole to stick a wedge six feet from the pin and make a par that guaranteed Union Grove’s first regional title in 36 years.
“Simon came through for us, just like last week,” Swanson said.
Graham shot even-par 35 on his first nine on the way to his 73.
Junior Jacob Brown, whose older brother, Connor, was a three-time individual state qualifier for the Broncos, shot 38 on his first nine a 43 on the second nine for an 81.
Junior Nathan Beutel finished strong with a 3-over 39 on his second nine for an 82 and senior Will Klaus had 41 on his first nine and shot an 86.
Waterford’s team total was a season best for the second straight week and Heath and Meyers led the way.
Heath, the Wolverines’ No. 3 player, shot 41 on his first nine holes (the back nine), then shot an even-par 36 on the front nine for a 77, giving him the second of the three individual state qualifying spots. The 36 and his final score were lifetime best rounds and he played the final 14 holes at even par after starting out 6-over on his first four holes.
Meyers, Waterford’s No. 1 player, had to work a little extra to earn his state berth. Meyers was 4-over on his first three holes, but was just 3-over the rest of the way to shoot a 78, Wolverines coach Joe Rydzewski said.
Meyers wasn’t quite done though, as Case senior Jack Boscher also shot a 78 and the two needed to have a physical playoff to determine the final state qualifier.
They both had 5s on the first hole of the playoff, then Meyers won the playoff with a 4 to Boscher’s 5 on the second hole.
Rydzewski said both freshmen are putting in the extra work needed to improve their games and help the team get better as well.
“Robbie and Jackson are both still only 14 years old, but are both mature beyond their age and work incredibly hard,” Rydzewski said. “The results of that hard work have really been showing up lately.”
Waterford should be a force next year as all five of its top players return.
“I am beyond proud of all of the guys on my team and the amazing progress they have made in just a month,” Rydzewski said.
Junior Mason Roanhouse birdied three of his final four holes to finish at 80 and sophomore Matt Catapano shot a 90 to round out the top four scoring players.
For Case, Boscher’s round included a 37 on his first nine and he had just one hole higher than a 5.
Senior No. 3 players Dalton Gain shot an 81, senior No. 1 player Sam Nolan had an 84 and sophomore No. 5 Benton Peters had an 88 to round out the Eagles’ top four.
Horlick senior Mike Cerny, one of four Racine County players who were individual qualifiers from the regional, had a 1-over 37 on his second nine and finished with a 79 to miss the playoff by one shot.
Park senior Alex Hutchinson had an 84, Burlington sophomore Benjamin Graham had an 86 and his Demons teammate, senior Ryan Gonzalez, shot a 90, but was shown as disqualified in the sectional results online.
“It was a great season,” Burlington coach Nick Schilleman said.
Complete results are available online at www.wiaawi.org