MADISON — In a parallel world, it is possible that Maya Heckmann might have earned a contributing role on a Lakeside Lutheran prep volleyball team.
But in this world, the sophomore became the first Lakeside Lutheran girls golfer to qualify for the WIAA Division 2 state golf tournament.
Heckmann rattled off five pars on the back-nine to close the day 15 strokes over par-72 which put her in 11th place after Day 1 at the WIAA Division 2 state golf tournament on Monday hosted at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison. La Crosse Aquinas senior Annie Balduzzi leads the two-day tournament by four strokes with a score of 74.
After her first 18 holes, the third Heckmann to golf at state was happy with her performance and, more importantly, the decision she made prior to her freshman year to golf instead of play volleyball. She was on the fence and wanted to play volleyball for the Capitol North juggernaut but knew she would have an upper hand on the golf course considering the pedigree of her older brothers, Lukas and Isaac.
“I was debating it. I wanted to do a volleyball camp (before school started), but I decided I was going to do golf,” Heckmann said. “(My mom) still made me go to the camp, but I decided to do golf about a month before school started. It was a really last-minute decision.”
Her mom, Amy, knew it was in her best interest to golf, but there was little more than a nudge toward the golf bag.
“It had to be her decision,” Amy Heckmann said. “We told her to go to (volleyball) camp and to go to a (golf) contact day to try them both out.
“Right before camp started, she said she was going to go to the camp, but she was going to play golf.”
And that’s what she did: she followed in the footsteps of her brothers, who each had qualified for the state tournament in the spring of 2017, just months before her freshman season. Lukas, who is a senior at Lakeside, won the state title in 2018 and Isaac is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin where he plays on the club golf team.
“Going out for golf, it unified her and Lukas in a way that they became super tight in a way they weren’t before. I think he, more than us, made it fun for her,” Amy said. “They go on vacation and they’ll be a foursome. I think she sees herself as separate from them. She doesn’t compare her successes to them.”
Unless of course she beats one of them like she did to Isaac last week when she carded a 41 at Bishop’s Bay in Middleton, where the family lives. It’s a healthy rivalry and mentorship within the family. Lukas said whichever sibling is playing with her on a given day is the one most invested in seeing her improve and grow as a golfer.
Heckmann’s experience playing with her brothers helped her at state as she was familiar playing with talented golfers. Her foursome at University Ridge consisted of Madison Edgewood senior Grace Welch, Hayward senior Emily Neff and Appleton Xavier senior Clair Phakamad. Welch finished the day in a tie with Phakamad for second place at six-over 78. Neff tied for eighth place with 86 strokes.
“The front-nine, it was my first time at state, so I was getting the nerves out. I was intimidated to play with those girls because I heard they scored really well in their sectionals,” said Heckmann. She improved from a 45 on the front-nine to scoring a 42 on the back-nine. “It was fun, they were super nice. We were all just laughing and having a really good time.”
Welch took second place at the Madison Edgewood sectional trailing only Balduzzi; Neff tied for the top spot at the Hayward sectional; and Phakamad tied for the lead at the Appleton Xavier sectional.
Heckmann said seeing the top-tier in Division 2 play well helped her visualize shots that she knew she was capable. Aside from an adventure in the bunker before a three-putt on the 14th green, she played as well as she had hoped for turning in five pars and three bogeys. The 14th was a glaring triple bogey, though.
“I always tell her, attitude is everything,” Lakeside coach Kyra Lostetter said. “I know she wasn’t too happy with the seven on the back-nine, but I tell her to bless and release those holes and we move on. She picked it right back up.”
Heckmann did that with two pars and two bogeys to close her day.
On the par-5 16th hole, she had one of her best chips of the day, putting her fourth shot within 10 feet of the hole. She missed her first putt along a slope and tapped in a three-footer coming back to save bogey.
On the par-3 17th hole, she gave herself a chance for birdie after stuffing a tee shot about 14 feet uphill from the hole. She putted coming back down the hill and the ball had too much pace as it rolled inches wide and four feet past. She made the short putt for a par.
“There were so many good shots today,” Lostetter said. “I think because she golfed well today, she’ll golf well tomorrow. She’s a very consistent golfer.”
And if she does golf well after teeing off at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, it might be the final motivation needed to entice her younger sister Ava, the fourth and final Heckmann, to compete for the Lakeside golf team.
“Right now she’s like I was,” Maya said. “She’s debating volleyball or golf. She has a natural talent for golf, so I think it would be fun (to play on the same team). I just try to joke around with her about it. I tell her she does pretty good at golf, I tell her to make a good decision. I hope she’ll play next year.”
When she does, it will just further cement golf as the family sport for the Heckmanns.
WIAA GIRLS GOLF STATE TOURNAMENT
at University Ridge Golf Course
Team scores — Kettle Moraine 318, Middleton 334, Arrowhead 337, Brookfield Central 348, Waunakee 352, Kaukanua 352, New Richmond 352, Bay Port 356, Milton 360, Lake Geneva Badger 368, Onalaska 375, Cedarburg 388.
Top scorer — Jo Baranczyk, BP, 72.
Milton — T. Hakala 82, Seeman 87, Weiss 94, C. Hakala 97, Moisson 98.
Team scores — Madison Edgewood 333, Appleton Xavier 356, Hayward 400, Arcadia 414, Luxemburg-Casco 417, Northwestern 435.
Top scorer — Annie Balduzzi, Aquinas, 74.
Lakeside Lutheran — Heckmann 87.