Since her freshman year, Northwestern High School’s Kiernan Smith has had the goal of playing in the Wisconsin state golf tournament.
Smith, a senior, has now accomplished that goal twice as she qualified for her second straight WIAA Division 2 Girls State Golf Tournament with a third-place finish at the Baldwin-Woodville Sectional on Tuesday, Oct. 8.
Smith carded an 87 during windy and cold weather at Pheasant Hills Golf Course in Hammond, Wis., trailing only Prescott freshman Ava Salay, who took medalist honors with an 84, and Ellsworth senior Holly Carlson, who was second at 86.
Tuesday was the first time this season Smith hasn’t finished either first or second.
Smith went undefeated in the HON conference and took medalist honors in their own invitational and in the D2 regional. Her second-place finish came in the Baldwin-Woodville Invitational, where she finished one stroke behind Salay, also at Pheasant Hills Golf Course.
Smith finished seventh at last year’s state tournament. Also returning to state are Madison Edgewood teammates Grace Welch and Grace Jaeger, who tied for third place, and Caitlyn Hegenbarth, who finished fifth.
“It will be a tough field,” Smith said. “But our sectional scores were similar, so we’ll see.”
NHS coach Scott Janigo is hoping the experience of playing at state last year helps Smith out.
“Experience is always the key when you go deep into competition,” Janigo said. “She is a young lady that works very hard and puts the time in. She works hard all summer and also puts in a lot of time during the season. She’ll put time in on the weekend and when we do take a day off, she’ll go to the course and get some extra swings in.
“All of those little things should bode well for her at state.”
In tuning up for her senior season, Smith was invited to play in the Minnesota Women’s State Open, was a seven-time winner on the Junior PGA Tour, and made it to the Junior PGA championship, placing 15th out of 30 golfers.
“Knowing the course better and all of the tournaments I’ve played in since last year have brought me to where I want to be,” Smith said. “What it comes down to is I just want to do the best I can.”
Weather could also be a factor at state with temperatures expected to be in the low 40s.
“I’m ready,” Smith said. “It’s supposed to be cold, and that could make for faster greens, but we will all have to adjust.”
The 48th Annual WIAA Girls State Golf Tournament is Monday, Oct. 14, and Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the University Ridge Golf Course in Madison.
Smith will shoot a practice round Sunday afternoon and D2 tee times begin at 8:50 a.m. on both days.
Northwestern finished in fifth place at Tuesday’s sectional with a score of 433. Prescott and St. Croix Central finished 1-2 with scores of 390 and 395.
Other Tiger scores were Alison Raboin, 113; McKenzie Tuura, 115; Reese Smith, 118; and Claire Jarman, 119.