The texts came trickling in this week.
They came from players and coaches alike, all wishing John Krueger and his Homestead girls golf team well.
Krueger read each one a little closer than usual, knowing he wouldn’t be on the receiving end of such messages in future seasons. Then, Krueger tried soaking in the WIAA Division 1 state tournament like never before.
After 16 years as the Highlanders head coach, Krueger recently announced he would be stepping down after this season. So during the state tournament Monday and Tuesday, Krueger took more time than usual to appreciate the experience.
“There were things I thought about a lot,” said Krueger, who was recently named assistant athletic director in the district and won’t have the necessary time to coach golf.
“I thought about all the past teams that have been here and all the personalities and the great friendships that developed over the years with those girls. That was really special.”
Krueger’s 16-year run was awfully special, too, and the Highlanders sent him off with some more good memories.
Homestead finished fourth at the 12-team tournament, marking the seventh time one of Krueger’s teams notched a top-four finish at state.
Arrowhead won the title with a 624 team score, the second-best mark in state history. Middleton (675), Onalaska (683), Homestead (687) and Oregon (691) rounded out the top five.
“It was a good ending,” Krueger said. “Top-five was a good goal and we worked our way into the top four. I’m very proud of the way the girls played.”
Homestead junior Speedy Kent capped her terrific season with a sixth-place individual finish. Kent shot 12-over-par, 156, and finished 14 shots behind champion Emily Lauterbach of Arrowhead.
Kent was seventh here in 2015 and eighth in 2014, and had put immense pressure on herself to win this year’s state title.
“In a sense, I’m upset with how I did,” Kent said. “But I’m not going to let this tournament define who I am.
“There’s bigger and better things that I want to achieve and I have bigger aspirations than winning a high school meet. Obviously, I wanted to do better, but there’s bigger things to come.”
Kent shot a pair of 78s and tied for the third-most birdies with five. Fellow junior Isabelle Maleki had a solid two days and tied for eighth with a 157.
Homestead senior Anne Schlageter tied for 43rd at 181, while senior Abbey Schneeberger tied for 60th at 193.
“I was really happy for my teammates,” Kent said. “We really support each other and they did awesome.”
Many of Krueger’s teams enjoyed “awesome” seasons during his tenure.
Krueger took a team to state in 12 of his 16 seasons. The Highlanders won back-to-back state championships in 2011-12 and had one second, one third and three fourth-place finishes on his watch.
In addition, Krueger’s teams were often noted for their professionalism and good sportsmanship.
“We definitely tried doing things the right way, and I’m proud of that,” Krueger said. “I had some great kids and we were able to do some pretty terrific things.”
That’s why many of the Highlanders will be sad to see Krueger go.
“He’s been a great coach,” Kent said. “I tried holding back the tears and luckily I didn’t cry. But I think I saw a little twinkle in his eye.
“It’s really sad for all of us. He’s a great guy and he’s like another father to us. We’re going to miss him dearly.”