The comeback was now complete.
Catholic Memorial’s boys golfers — who major in unforgettable rallies — had just captured their second straight WIAA Division 2 state title Tuesday afternoon.
But before Dylan Allen — the leader of this fabulous quintet — exited the 18th hole at University Ridge to embark on the next chapter of his life, the Crusaders senior stopped to savor the moment.
“It’s just a surreal feeling,” Allen said. “We all worked so hard. We came into the year knowing we had a really deep team and nothing was going to be handed to us. But we really found it and we never looked back.”
Catholic Memorial captured its fourth state title since 2005 in a manner similar to its first three. The Crusaders made a stirring second-day charge and leapfrogged the first-round leader.
This time, Catholic Memorial shot a 305 on Monday, which left it four shots behind Madison Edgewood (301). But on the second day, the Crusaders posted a 302, which was 11 shots better than Edgewood.
Catholic Memorial’s 607 team score gave it a seven-shot win over Edgewood. The Crusaders’ also finished with the second-lowest score in the 24-year history of Division 2 and had the lowest score of any team at this year’s state tournament — regardless of division.
“It’s amazing how they really lock in and focus,” Catholic Memorial coach Steve Plechaty said of his players. “When they see that front horse right out in front of them, they do an amazing job of going and passing it. It’s just amazing.”
During the Crusaders’ run of four state titles in 10 years, they’ve never led after the opening day. Three times, Catholic Memorial has been second, and once it was third.
The Crusaders average deficit those years was six strokes. But Catholic Memorial rallied back each time by averaging a blistering 301 in its final round.
“I think there’s just a mindset in the program, passed down from class to class,” Plechaty said. “Obviously you can’t win it every year. But we’re on a good run right now.”
Allen is a major reason why.
With Catholic Memorial trailing Edgewood by four shots heading to the final round, Plechaty told his team to approach things like match play. The premise was that if each Crusader could pick up a stroke, or more, they’d bring home the crown.
Allen, who was playing with Edgewood’s Johnny Decker — a University of Wisconsin recruit — did his part, shooting an even-par 72 while Decker posted an 80.
Allen was a model of consistency, hitting 16 greens in regulation, making 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey. Allen finished the tournament at 1-over-par, 145, good for third place individually.
“He could have shot 65, too, if he could have gotten some putts to drop,” Plechaty said of Allen. “But he just didn’t let Johnny Decker in the door at all. He slammed it every time Johnny made any kind of a shot.”
The rest of the Crusaders did their part, as well.
Junior Tyler King followed up his opening round 76 with a 75. That left King in seventh place individually with a 151.
Sophomore Michael Immekus shot a second-day 76 and finished 10th individually at 153. Immekus, who transferred to Catholic Memorial from Greendale Martin Luther this season, played No. 2 in the lineup all season and gave the program a huge boost.
“I feel like I was just really consistent all season,” Immekus said. “I think they dropped my score one time in conference. But besides that, they usually kept my score.”
And senior Joel Stanislawski had his 79 count on Monday, while senior Conor Farrell posted a 79 on Tuesday. Stanislawski finished in a tie for 15th individually with a 159, while Farrell tied for 19th at 160.
That’s why when the magical season had ended, Allen and the rest of the Crusaders didn’t want to say goodbye.
“We were about as tight as can be,” Allen said. “On and off the course, we had as much fun as possible. We had each others’ backs the whole way.
“We shared medalist honors numerous, numerous times throughout the year, and we just knew if one of us blew up, there were four other guys there to back him up. The car rides, the golf … it couldn’t have been better. It was unbelievable.”
Especially the ending.