Hitt a 'hit' with rebuilding Highlanders golf team
Junior contended for an individual state title
Homestead junior golfer Anika Hitt is a generous, gregarious person.
She's played on the Junior PGA Tour in the summer since she was about 10 years old and has made a lot of friends that way.
So it's not surprising that she adopted a less-than-cutthroat and many would say a very healthy attitude toward her chances of a WIAA State Individual golf title in the tournament that was played at University Ridge in Verona earlier this week (she was fourth after the first day on Monday).
"I'd love a title," she said, "but I've already had a great experience. This is is a sport where you don't worry about what others are doing around you, you only control what you can do. These are my best friends (I'm competing against) and if one of them has a really great day and wins it, I'll be fine with it because they deserve it."
Hitt took that attitude even after she rewrote all the Homestead and Hartford Golf Club record books on Oct. 8, with an astonishing 18-hole score of 66 in the WIAA sectional tournament that led an almost completely rebuilt Highlanders team back to the state tournament.
Even her veteran coach John Krueger said, "It was like nothing I had ever seen before. It was like she was shooting darts."
Hitt, who had nine-hole scores of 35 and 31, agreed, as she hit her irons into the greens like she was drawing them up with a laser pointer.
"It was just one thing, one shot after another," she said. "It was just a very consistent round. I went six under (par) on the back. I hit almost every putt and most of them were from inside of 10 feet, four I think were inside of three feet.
"It was pretty crazy."
But in her eyes, her singular, individual success, easily the best score out of any sectional in Division 1 or 2 last week, was not a celebration of her, but part of a more important process. That being the fact that she led the two-time state team champions back to state despite the Highlanders having graduated four of their top five players from last year.
"Our team took priority," she said. "We needed to make it all the way through (to state)."
That's an attitude she's had since she was little, always looking at the bigger picture. She's been playing since she was about 4 years old. Her family belongs to North Shore Country Club and also to a club in Door County.
"They've had me on a cart out on a course since before I can remember," she said.
Both her parents are good players, and they encouraged her to have fun with the sport.
"But I've always been a very competitive person," she said.
That fact along with her booming 240- to 250-yard drives allowed her to fit in right away on the veteran championship level teams at Homestead even when she was freshman two years ago.
"We got along very well," she said. "We really earned those state titles and I consider myself lucky to have been a part of them. More than that, they became really good friends of mine. It was easy for us to stop in the hallway and talk (between classes)."
Transitioning to leader
All that changed this year. Her friends were gone to college and she had to become a leader of a team of "newbies."
It was a bit of a transition.
"We had this really good team for about two years and now it was like we didn't know what it would be like," Hitt said.
However, the changeover process worked quickly. The Highlanders didn't have enough horsepower to beat a veteran Whitefish Bay team for the North Shore Conference title but they got better and better in the short, quick girls golf season.
They had a harrowing experience at the WIAA regional meet advancing as a team by only three shots, but then behind Hitt's marvelous score, they turned in a season best team mark of 350 at sectional to earn the state berth.
"We knew we were in the mix," Krueger said. "Still, that score for us was incredible."
Some called it "magic" added Krueger.
Creating a plan
His team leader knew the real reason why the team is back at state.
"We got along so well this season," Hitt said. "I'd always try to be around and help out when they had a question. How to hit a shot in this situation. Help them create a plan on a certain course....When we got to sectional the thought was just to go out there and have fun, really give ourselves a chance to go to state.
"I wanted them to be loose and have fun, because you can't play good golf if you're tense and nervous. Just go out and play."
Which is what she'll be doing.
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