With the 2019 spring season Jordan Hahn’s last, the Badgers hoped to capitalize off of their star player’s prowess one last time. Unfortunately, all of Hahn’s efforts fell short of carrying the Badgers towards any sort of success. In fact, Hahn posted just the second best score for the Badgers, behind sophomore Griffin Barela, on their way to a last place finish in the Big 10 tournament.
As the 2019 fall season approaches, the ability of the team to be able to regroup and recapture a competitive season remains in question. Luckily, silver linings from last year’s finish as well as the addition of new talent to the roster show promising signs of improvement.
Despite an undoubtedly disappointing finish for Hahn, his second-place finish for the Badgers in the Big 10 tournament is a promising sign that young talent on the team is beginning to steadily develop.
As previously mentioned, Barela, only a sophomore at the time, captured the No. 1 spot for the Badgers at Philadelphia Cricket Club this past spring. Going into his junior year, Barela will be joined by returning starters from the Big 10 tournament Sam Anderson, Pete Kuhl and Cameron Frazier.
The team loses its ace in Hahn but gains the opportunity to find a new one as the fall season progresses. They will be forced to do so if they wish to avoid the pitfalls they encountered throughout their most recent spring campaign.
Barela is — as of now — the best prospect to take over as the dominant scoring leader for the Badgers. He boasts a long list of accolades while entering only his third season of competition for the team. This past season, he was consistently the second lowest scorer on the team, trailing only behind Hahn himself. Individually, Barela also finished 4th at the Hawkeye Invitational and cracked the top 10 at two other tournaments in the season.
Barela cemented himself as the team’s top prospect to begin to attempt to fill the shoes of Hahn, Wisconsin’s all-time leader in scoring average. This season demonstrated that without a strong supporting cast it is nearly impossible for one standout player to make up for the shortcomings of the rest of the team.
While the Badgers return much of their team from the 2019 Big 10 Championship, they also managed the addition of three new recruits to their roster. Coalter Smith, Sebastian Iqbal and Jack Blair are all set to join the Badgers in competition this fall season.
Golf is a uniquely scheduled sport in that there is both a fall and spring season. The fall season provides a testing ground for teams to hone their games and set their lineups in stone before the spring season. This structure exists in order to allow teams to best prepare for the spring season, as that is where the most important competitions are — including conference and national tournaments.
It is then likely that all three of these new signees will be able to hit the ground running for the Badgers. Conveniently, this is exactly what head coach Michael Burcin expects of these new additions to the team.
Speaking with University of Wisconsin Communications he said, “We feel this could be one of the most impactful freshman classes in the league with all three players ready to make an impact.”
With ample opportunity to show their ability this fall, the supporting cast around existing talent should begin to develop. It’s extremely difficult to try and predict who will adjust well to collegiate competition following high school dominance. There is, however, one recruit in particular that stands out as a promising acquisition for the Badgers in 2019.
Blair, Wisconsin native and graduate of Marquette high school, was the latest addition to the Badgers’ 2019 fall campaign. Blair is the No. 1 player in his graduating class for the state of Wisconsin and has already dealt with the pressure of high-level competition as he led his high school team to two straight state titles and captured his own individual AJGA championship in the meantime.
Iqbal and Smith are also promising signees in their own right. With both maintaining extremely high state and national junior rankings, there remains little doubt about their talent level and their ability to contribute to the 2019 Badger golf team.
One thing is for certain, there remains a lot to look forward to for a program that just had what was — by many standards — a poor season. Finishing dead last in the Big 10 by a shocking 15 shots to cap off their season and the career of what most would consider to be the best golfer in the Badgers’ history was certainly a disappointment.
Much progress remains to be made if they are to drastically improve last season’s results, but with a promising batch of new signees as well as a long list of returning contributors, the Badgers appear to be on the upshot heading into their 2019 fall season.