Berlin senior Michael Falk set up over his ball on the practice range and picked out his target.
He drew the iron back and unleashed a low, sidewinder toward the right and quickly leaned to put a little body-English on the shot to help the attempt hit the mark.
But he wasn’t aiming for one of pseudo-greens on the range, a specific tree lining the practice area or one of the signs telling golfers how far they hit the ball.
Instead, he was aiming for the caged cart puttering around the range that housed teammate and fellow senior Dylan Calabresa.
The light-hearted display on Saturday afternoon highlights the fact that as the Indians are gearing up for the WIAA Division 2 State Golf Meet, which begins Monday at University Ridge in Madison, they definitely aren’t feeling any pressure.
“There’s some great teams (at state) and our goal is too shoot our best score that we’ve shot and keep on improving,” Falk said. “Just being down there is an experience all on its own and to share that with four other guys that I’m pretty close to is great.”
Falk, who qualified as individual as a sophomore, will be joined by fellow seniors Calabresa, Drew Dretske, junior Alec Huggins and freshman Sam Marks when the Indians take to the course for the state meet.
“It’s much better than making it as an individual,” said Dretske, the Eastern Valley Conference individual champion, who finished tied for second at last week’s sectional meet. “You get to be there with your friends and celebrate the moments with them instead of just worrying about yourself.”
With Falk having played two rounds on the course already, it certainly gives Berlin a bit of an edge.
“I think it’s going to help a lot,” Falk said. “I have and edge over the people who haven’t been there and hopefully I can give the guys tips during the practice round.”
Berlin, which has qualified a team or individual for state in six of the last eight years, had plenty of motivation to make this year’s state field.
Falk, Dretske and Huggins were all on last year’s squad that seemed primed to make it to state but at a rough day at sectionals and failed to advance.
“I thought about that every time I played golf because it was such a disappointment last year,” Dretske said. “It really motivated me after junior year we were really predicted to go and it didn’t happen.”
This year’s group, though, turned in a solid round to finish second behind powerhouse Notre Dame at the sectional meet.
“Everyone was pretty nervous because we didn’t want to do that again, but we all pulled through and everyone did their jobs,” Calabresa said. “It’s awesome. I’ve been looking forward to this for year and to finally get to do it and make it is sweet.”
While the rest of the group has been through big tournaments before, Marks is getting his first taste of it this season and his teammates have been helping him prepare.
“Just treat it like any other tournament, really. Relax and don’t worry too much about it,” Marks said of the advice he’s received this week. “I’m excited though, it’s going to be fun.”
Besides, as Dretske put it, this is where they wanted to end their season.
“We made it to the final destination,” he said. “There’s no better place to finish than University Ridge.”
Lueptow takes aim at strong finish
Ripon senior Michael Lueptow learned from his state experience last year when the Tigers qualified as a team. And it was not an easy lesson.
Lueptow struggled to a 98 on the first day of the state tournament, yet gained a valuable lesson that he will bring to University Ridge this season after qualifying as an individual.
“A lot of it had to do with my nerves,” Lueptow said. “I’ve gotten a lot better this past summer and spring channeling my nerves into a positive attitude.”
With nerves in check, Lueptow shot a 78 at the sectional meet to return to the state meet, this time as an individual qualifier.
Something that was definitely a goal entering his final prep season.
“Part of my goals this year was to make it down to state as an individual and see what I could do,” Lueptow said. “I’m definitely looking forward to playing (University Ridge) again. I feel like I know my way around the course from my experiences last year.”
Lueptow said something else he will take from last year’s experience is to play a smarter round and “not always hit driver and go for everything.”
That and a strong short game could bring Lueptow toward the top of the leaderboard.
“I’m hoping to put a couple good rounds in the 70s,” Lueptow said. “(The key) is definitely my short game and my putting. I’ve been off and on this year, but I feel like, of late, I’ve put in a lot of time and extra practice working on it and trying to hone it in and get it better.”