For hundreds of UW-Stout students, being involved in a club sport or another student organization is great way to make friends and enjoy a favorite pastime or find a new social outlet.
Two teams of students, from the Bowling Club and Disc Golf Club, took it a little more seriously this year and found out they were among the best in the country in men’s tournaments.
The Bowling Club took second place in the nation at a tournament in Davenport, Iowa, and the Disc Golf Club took fifth at a tournament in Marion, N.C.
“It’s exciting to see our sport clubs back being active. Not only are many of our clubs competing, they are competing well amongst other clubs across the nation,” said Mackenzie Stutzman, associate director of University Recreation at UW-Stout.
“Our mission as a department is to provide an avenue for lifelong engagement, healthy activity and experiential learning as a way to enhance students’ time on campus. It’s great to be seeing our students doing that.”
Like the more than 150 student organizations at UW-Stout, the two teams received funding support from the Stout Student Association through segregated student fees. Simple Sports from Menomonie also supported the disc golf team.
On April 9-10 in the Collegiate Club National Championship at Leisure Lanes in Davenport, UW-Stout team members far exceeded their expectations by taking runner-up in the U.S.
UW-Stout finished second to Wright State of Dayton, Ohio, losing the fifth and deciding game of the best-of-five finals match, 202-173. UW-Stout took a 2-0 lead in the match before Wright State rallied for the title.
“This is the first year to our knowledge that Stout has ever qualified for this tournament. We thought we would be out in the first couple of rounds,” said Briana Riedesel, a sophomore from Tomah who is the club’s vice president and on the women’s team.
To make the tournament finals, teams first competed in pool play. UW-Stout was seeded fifth out of six teams in its pool.
The team qualified for the national meet through conference play and tournaments hosted by Viterbo University in La Crosse and at UW-Oshkosh.
Seven bowlers went to the national meet out of about 12 on the team who play competitively. The club has about another 15 to 20 members. Club members play and practice two nights a week at Broadway Bowl in Menomonie.
Jacob Zondlak, a sophomore from Kenosha, made the All-Tournament Team, as voted on by other teams.
“The experience was definitely fun, yet stressful. We met new teams from different parts of the country and spent time with the team to destress,” Riedesel said.
Disc Golf Club
The disc golf team for UW-Stout competed in Division II and finished 13 under par, five shots behind the winner, out of 71 teams.
The College Disc Golf championship was April 6-9 at North Cove Disc Golf and Social Club. A University of Iowa team took first place, winning a playoff against Western Carolina after the teams tied at 18 under par.
The four rounds included one round with singles play and three with doubles. UW-Stout moved up each day, from 15th place to ninth, eighth and finally fifth.
“Our goal was to obviously win, but taking fifth out of 71 teams playing up a division was nothing to hang our heads about. We had no clue what scores we needed to shoot or how we would play these courses. Given the latter, we realistically exceeded our expectations,” said Alex Helbach, a graduate student from Amherst.
The courses were challenging, team members said, more difficult than the Brickyard and Wakanda Park courses they play in Menomonie.
“The nationals course is probably in the top three most professional courses I have ever played,” said Logan Hochstetler, a junior from St. Paul. “Every hole is perfectly designed and manicured to look and play professionally.”
Before each round, team members examined the holes and planned where to try for a birdie or eagle and where to play it safe for par. “The courses are designed to be high risk, high reward,” said Ray Kulow, a junior from Sheboygan Falls.
Other team members were Tommy Kratz, a junior from DePere, and Kyle DeVries, a sophomore from Madison.
The club’s adviser, Ryan Dolan, has seen the team “get so much better over the past couple of years by continuously practicing, competing at several noncollegiate tournaments and attending weekly leagues outside of the Stout club. These guys keep striving to get better, and they definitely showed it in North Carolina,” said Dolan, the printing manager for Printing Services at UW-Stout.
In 2017, UW-Stout took seventh place at the national Division II meet. In 2016, a UW-Stout team competed in Division I and took sixth place.
The Disc Golf Club has about 140 members this year, including a small group of competitive players.