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updated: 10/11/2012 9:05 PM

Girls golf / State tournament scouting, Northwest

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Girls golf / Scouting Class AA girls golf state tournament

When: today, Saturday

Where: Hickory Point Golf Course, Decatur

Teams: Crystal Lake Central Coop, Prairie Ridge, Edwardsville, Lincoln-Way East, Hinsdale Central, Prospect, Lyons Township, Normal University, Sacred Heart Griffin, Wheaton-Warrenville South, New Trier, Maine South

Advancing area individuals (sectional scores): Stevenson senior Stephanie Miller (75), St. Viator junior Dana Gattone (79), Fremd junior Dorothy Feng (84), Buffalo Grove senior Grace Kil (83), Elk Grove senior Katie DeMeulenaere (84),

Knights watch

For the first time in school history, a girls sports team from Prospect will be trying to defend a state title. In his sixth season, coach Jim Hamann steered the Lady Knights to the school's first state title in any girls sport. Now the Knights return to the same course where they shot 643 to win the 2011 meet, featuring medalist Allison Walsh, who won with a score of 149 (77-72) and currently plays for Bradley. Allison and other former Prospect girls golfers are expected to be watching in Decatur. "I've been getting six or seven text a days from alumni," Hamann said. "It's a real special program and that's a credit to all the current and former golfers. We get girls as beginners and many turn out to be varsity golfers."

Eleven different Knights counted their scores at some point in a meet this season. That is the most for Hamann in his seven years directing the program. The list includes Kiley Walsh, Noreen Caporusso, Ally Scaccia, Emma Menich, Noelle Johnston, Isabella Flack, Kacie O'Donnell, Jenny Geraghty, Bridget Brassil, Jackie Surelta and Erin Runde. Prospect set a school-record 147 for a nine-hole dual meet this season against Hersey. The Knights also set the school record for 18 holes with a 297 when they won the MSL crown in the rain at Bonnie Dundee in Carpentersville. Caporusso shot a school-record 70 in the MSL meet while Walsh's 71 that day also broke the former record of 72 which had been held by her sister Allison (72 on the final day of state tourney). "The whole team is ready (for the state finals)," Hamann said. "We are going to play well."

Family affair

Making this year even more special for Prospect girls golf coach Jim Hamann is that his brother will also be coaching a team in the state finals. Maine South coach Jeff Hamann is guiding the Hawks to the state finals for the first time in his 14 seasons.

"Our father (John) was a golf coach (Willowbrook High School) for 35 years and never brought a team downstate," Jeff said. "He's not here today but for both of us (Jeff and Jim) to bring teams downstate would make him very proud." Jim was ecstatic for his brother. "Things have been emotional for Jeff and me the last few years," Jim said. "This is special for our family. I'm so proud of my brother. He's taught me so many things. He deserves this opportunity." Jeff and Jim are also the sophomore girls basketball coaches at their schools and math teachers. Shortly after John Hamann died in August of 2010, Maine South and Prospect played a dual meet at the Mt. Prospect Golf Course. The players on both teams wore bows in their hair in honor of John and the girls got to know each other. "There's not even words to describe how great it is that Maine South is going downstate, too," said Knights junior Kiley Walsh, who played as a freshman in that meet. "It' so incredible that we are playing with them downstate. They're all such nice girls and deserve to be there, too."

What the Knights are saying

"I love practice. I'm saying all day long I can't wait until eighth hour when I'm off and I can start practicing. That's what gets me through the school day."

-- Senior Noelle Johnston about why she loves playing golf at Prospect

"I really love playing that course. I had one of my best rounds there last year so I feel that course is a lot of fun to play."

-- Junior Emma Menich on Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur

"There's always pressure going into state finals, regardless of the past. But after last year, we feel more confident because we know we can do it. We had been dreaming of a state title for so long. Now we know it can be a reality and that's cool to think about,"

-- Junior Kiley Walsh about going to Decatur as the defending Class AA state champs

"Winning state last year definitely gives us confidence going in. But we have to play our game. It's usually windy at state and we have to play it the best we can."

-- Junior Ally Scaccia on the return to Hickory Point

The Final Five

Stevenson's Stephanie Miller, St. Viator's Dana Gattone, Buffalo Grove's Grace Kil, Elk Grove's Katie DeMeulenaere and Fremd's Dorothy Feng are the other five area golfers outside of Prospect playing in the state finals.

It's the fourth straight year in the state finals for the Illinois-bound Miller, who won the top prize as a sophomore. "I've played the course (Hickory Point) about nine times over the years so I have a pretty good idea," Miller said. "That helps because I know what I've done worn in the oats and will try not to do that again."

Gattone, making her third trip to the state finals, got to play Medinah on the Saturday before the Ryder Cup. She finished second out of 32 golfers in the Ryder Cup Youth Skills Challenge.

Gattone shot the low score (73) for St. Viator when it won the East Suburban Catholic Conference meet two weeks ago.

Kil has been a standout for BG the past four years and last year tied for fourth in the state finals. She holds nearly every school record for the Bison.

DeMeulenaere and Feng earned the state finals berths by winning a playoff with two other girls at the Carmel sectional at Bonnie Brook in Waukegan.

DeMeulenaere is the first girl from Elk Grove to qualify for the state meet while Feng was part of the Vikings' team that qualified in 2011.

-- John Leusch

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