The Appleton East boys’ golf team’s to-do list had some wishful thinking involved prior to the Fox Valley Association meet at Wander Springs Golf Course on Saturday.
To capture the conference title, the Patriots would have to not only win the 10-team meet over FVA dual meet leader Oshkosh West, they would also have to hold off stern challenges from other top league teams like Kimberly, Neenah, Fond du Lac and Kaukauna.
That’s exactly what happened, as the Patriots had all four of their scoring golfers shoot in the 70s to finish with a first-place total of 298.
That gave the Patriots enough points to leapfrog Oshkosh West, which entered the meet with a 9-0 record in dual meets, including a victory over the Patriots (8-1) in the first dual of the season.
Neenah finished second at the meet with 305 points and was paced by conference individual champion Sam Galloway.
Kimberly (313), Fond du Lac (316), Oshkosh West (321), Kaukauna (324), Appleton North (345), Appleton West (355), Oshkosh North (364) and Menasha (381) rounded out the field.
“It’s a credit to the conference because the conference is incredibly strong,” Appleton East coach Kevin Reichardt said. “We’re fairly fortunate this year because we have five solid players who, at any given time, any of those five can go off and give us a low score. Everybody played real well today, so credit to them and hats go off to our guys.
“We were in a bind by losing that first dual to Oshkosh West, but they came back strong.”
East’s low score is seven shots better than the 305 performances put together by East’s last FVA championship teams in 2006 and 2007.
Erik Thulien led the way for the Patriots with a 72, with Alan Lemons (74), Turner Schmidt (75) and Phillip Boldt (77) not far behind. Sam Kuklinski finished with a solid 82, but only the top four scores are counted.
“Last year we kind of peaked early,” Thulien said. “We started off 5-0 and then we kind of went in from there, but (this season) we started off just playing OK and we have really improved since then. … As a team, to come in here and shoot 298? I think we’re starting to peak at the right time.”
All five golfers were also on the league’s all-conference list that was compiled following the meet, with Thulien a first-team selection.
“We’re all pretty solid, but it’s not often that you see five players in the all-conference,” Lemons said. “We came out here a couple of days ago and played a practice round and played pretty solid and we were ready.
“It’s cool to kind of compare ourselves to those great players like Erik Mayers, who just graduated from Rice (University). It’s just awesome to be back on top.”
Galloway, a freshman, fired a 71 and defeated Oshkosh West’s Logan Handey in a sudden playoff on the first hole.
“It felt real good,” Galloway said. “(The year) didn’t start out too great. I was actually on JV for the first two matches, but I kind of picked it up on the ensuing part of the season. As far as today, I was a little shaky to start but got a birdie on the first hole and got my round going early, so it was nice to have that happen.”
FVA CONFERENCE MEET
At Wander Springs G.C., par 72
Tournament results: Appleton East 298, Neenah 305, Kimberly 313, Fond du Lac 316, Oshkosh West 321, Kaukauna 324, Appleton North 345, Appleton West 355, Oshkosh North 364, Menasha 381.
Dual meet standings: Oshkosh West 9-0, Appleton East 8-1, Kimberly 7-2, Neenah 6-3, Kaukauna 5-4, Fond du Lac 4-5, Appleton North 3-6, Oshkosh North 1-8, Appleton West 1-8, Menasha 1-8.
Final standings: Appleton East 17, Oshkosh West 14, Kimberly 14, Neenah 14, Fond du Lac 10, Kaukauna 9, Appleton North 6, Appleton West 3, Oshkosh North 2, Menasha 1.
Top five finishers: 1, Sam Galloway NEE 71*; 2, Logan Handy OW 71; 3, Erik Thulien AE 72; 4, Mitchell Wittmann KAU 73; 5, Mitch Cardinal FDL 73.
Appleton East: Alan Lemons 74, Turner Schmidt 75, Phillip Boldt 77.
Neenah: Nate Pronschinske 76, Aaron Rosauer 79, Brad Veldhorst 79.
Kimberly: Garrett Hoffman 75, Jonah Buss 77, Matt Weber 80, Jalen Buchberger 81.
Fond du Lac: Charlie Blagoue 79, Marcus Ruch 81, Joe Wright 83.
Oshkosh West: Wyatt Stickney 78, Jacob Christensen 86, Alex White 86.
Kaukauna: Evan Rabas 80, Zach Kimball 85, Andrew Slusarzyk 86.
Appleton North: Jon Hidde 83, Geoff Stirm 84, Luke Gambaro 86, Cole Salm 92.
Appleton West: Isaiah Harmison 76, Ryan Miller 91, Jacob Maltbey 92, Chris Barry 96, Levin Schrader 96.
Oshkosh North: Paul Christman 75, Nick Bauer 82, Brandon Nimke 99, Brett Spangler 108.
Menasha: Bekah Donner 89, Grant Maurer 90, Garter Grishaber 101, Alex Laus 101.
*Won in one-hole playoff
— Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or email@example.com; On Twitter @PCRicardo