Craig Walters has reached the 18th hole of his career.
The North-South girls co-op coach for the last 19 years, who begins his third season running the Golden Raiders boys program – he was their junior varsity coach for eight years as well – is retiring.
“My wife and I are both retiring and we’re moving to our house up north,” he said. “Thirty-one years of teaching is enough.”
The health teacher, who helped get the girls to the state tournament two of the last three seasons, is hoping the boys get there for the fourth time in five years.
There’s a good chance, considering his team is No. 7 in the Division 1 preseason state poll by the coaches association and features three golfers in WisconsinGolf.com’s class rankings: juniors Mason Schmidtke, Hogan Miller and freshman Ryder Miller.
“Never say given,” Walters said. “We haven’t really gone through goals yet, but I know the kids have that in their sights. And as they should. They’re good players, so they should be there. Obviously we have some talented kids. But those rankings don’t really mean anything; it’s what happens on the course.”
And the course is where Walters will be after retirement.
“I’ll golf as much as I can,” he said. “I don’t know if it’ll be every day, but it’ll be a lot.”
Senior Michael Modahl returns after finishing seventh in the Big East Championship. He also made first-team all-conference. … Five other seniors (including Josiah Stecker and Will Grasse) and two juniors are also back with varsity experience. … “There’ll be some friendly competition to see how this all turns out,” coach Todd Wagner said.
Lizzie Montaba, who placed fourth in the conference championship meet, graduated. … Three of the other four who made all-Big East return: junior Caden Solle (second team), sophomore Elliott Leibham (second team) and senior Jackson Holzheimer. … The Crusaders return to the South Division after one year in the North.
The team, sixth at state last year, was in the tournament for the third time in four years. … Junior Mason Schmidtke returns; he tied for fifth at state a year ago and is the reigning conference champion. … Hogan Miller, another junior, placed 25th at state and made second-team all-conference. … Junior Brandon Bloechel will also contributor.
The only one to make all-conference, Nicholas Kolar, graduated, and there are no seniors this season … Sophomores Hayden Brickley, Davis Glaven and Hayden Streblow do return with varsity experience. … “I think we did okay in the conference last year, but we’re really looking forward to this season,” coach Sim Safford said. “I think we can do better in the conference.”