Top teams: Hinsdale Central, Naperville North, Benet, Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley, Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Naperville Central, Hinsdale South, Downers Grove North.
Top athletes:Addison Trail: Ali Bellino, sr., Gia De La Cruz, sr., Annie Pacilli, sr., Olivia Ustas, sr.; Benet: Isabella Abbdula, fr., Ashley Follenweider, jr., Katie Norton, sr., Gretchen Schramko, jr.; Downers Grove North: Elizabeth Eboli, jr., Grace Fleming, sr., Courtney Katz, soph., Abbey Radigan, sr.; Downers Grove South: Danielle Hefferman, sr., Sarah Hodges, jr., Madi Pojasek, soph., Bridget Ruder, sr.; Glenbard East: Morgan Fugiel, sr., Taylor Hallcox, sr., Grace Ludwig, soph.; Glenbard North: Bridget Everson, sr., Hayley Jefferson, sr., Sam Yocum, sr.; Glenbard South: Matea Boyer, sr., Abby Johnson, jr., Lilly Mittenthal, sr.; Glenbard West: Morgan Adair, sr., Madison Chandler, sr., Emma Klimala, sr., Grace Lupo, sr., Erin Spiech, sr.; Hinsdale Central: Cailee Beisswanger, sr., Madelynn Swank, sr., Zoe Wong, sr.; Hinsdale South: Sam Buddig, sr., Anisha Pal, sr., Jorie Smith, sr.; Immaculate Conception: Maddie Hart, fr.; Lake Park: Toni Collaro, sr., Sam Green, sr., Rachel Hansen, sr., Madison McCallister, sr.; Lisle: Melanie Beidelman, jr., Bella Daly, soph., Alexis Gustas, jr., Mary Sullivan, jr.; Metea Valley: Erin Foster, jr., Kaitlyn Kline, soph., Niquole Mangal, soph., Rebekah Turley, sr.; Naperville Central: Riya Anand, fr., Avleen Bhandal, sr., Stephanie Robinson, soph., Lauren Van Horn, sr.; Naperville North: Taylor Arenson, sr., Emily Deahr, sr., Maddie Krejci, sr., Caroline Pierson, sr., Jaycie White, sr., Blayne Yarmat, sr.; Neuqua Valley: Kiwi Ferrelli, soph., Erin McGrath, sr., Isis Ruff, jr., Jessica Yuen, soph.; St. Francis: Caroline Bland, jr., Caroline Pins, sr.; Waubonsie Valley: Caitlin Fernandez, sr., Stephanie Liu, fr., Kayla McHale, soph., Rebecca O'Brien, sr., Bing Singhsumalee, jr.; West Chicago: Tessa Dittman, sr., Hanna Netisingha, sr., Amanda O'Mahoney, sr.; Wheaton Academy: Hailey Farmer, soph., Megan Herring, jr., Lauren Isenhart, fr., Laura Vento, sr.; Wheaton North: Caitlin Berry, sr., Mikayla Harrington, jr., Ally Leone, sr., Samira Tungare, soph.; Wheaton Warrenville South: Kelly Anderson, jr., Priya Desai, fr., Julia Hauenstein, soph., Cassie Kuhn, soph.; York: Kerri Carlquist, sr., Megan Deckman, soph., Ellen Foley, soph., Meg Grasse, sr.
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Scouting report: The western suburbs have long been a proven breeding ground for female golfers, and this season has already produced some compelling moments.
Waubonsie Valley junior Singhsumalee enters the season as an odds-on choice to become the second state champion in the history of the Aurora school. Wisconsin junior Thomas O'Bryan won the boys large-school crown three years ago, and Singhsumalee has an equally peerless pedigree after capturing the state amateur title this summer. The Thailand native had a regional for the ages last year in torching Phillips Park with an 8-under 64. "I don't like to focus on one person," Waubonsie Valley coach Jack Farner said. "It's a team sport. We feel like we have some unfinished business from last year."
But Singhsumalee does not have to gaze far to detect an unmistakable rival. Neuqua Valley sophomore Yuen stole the spotlight from her sister-school competitor by not only winning the sectional but also tying for state runner-up at the truncated state tournament last year. "I guess (the attention is natural) because it's Waubonsie vs. Neuqua," Yuen said after winning the Naperville City Championship on Tuesday. "We are alike in many ways. We're not really rivals; we're competitors."
"With girls I don't get that sense (of personal rivalry)," Neuqua Valley coach John Keller said. "They don't seem to think that way like guys do. 'Oh, I have to beat this person.'"
Waubonsie Valley, Neuqua Valley and St. Charles North are the programs to watch in the single-division Upstate Eight Conference this fall.
But there is another athlete in close proximity to the two Indian Prairie high schools with designs of her own. Naperville North senior Arenson is the unquestioned leader of perhaps the best team in the county. "They're both amazing players," Arenson said of Singsumalee and Yuen.
Arenson was the medalist Monday at Marian Catholic as her 1-over 73 was the anchor of the lowest score in program history-- 323.
It is noteworthy as the Huskies have a history few can match; Naperville North once had a streak of 19 downstate appearances in a 20-year period.
"Within a 5-mile radius, you have three of the best golfers in the state," Naperville Central coach Jane Thompson said. "Taylor is just as good (as Singhsumalee and Yuen). She is a sleeper."
Naperville North, which denied fellow DuPage Valley Conference heavyweight Wheaton Warrenville South by a shot for the league championship last year, is searching for its first state appearance as a team in 13 years.
"As a team, we're really deep this year," Arenson said after dropping the city title to Yuen by a stroke. "It's really important that we play our best in the big tournaments."
The Huskies are an overwhelming favorite to defend their title in the DVC.
"Coming into the season, I had a feeling this was a special team," Naperville North coach Greta Williams said.
"Greta is so deep," Thompson said. "(The Naperville North girls) are all such serious golfers. That is such an advantage."
Williams expects the team to be even stronger when senior Christine Grzesiak returns to the fold from a wrist injury.
WW South has been a mainstay on the state scene with four qualifying teams in less than a decade. But the Tigers have an entirely different look as Anderson is the one known quantity for the team.
"I don't want to say we're rebuilding because that sounds bad," WW South coach Art Tang said. "We're going to be very young and inexperienced. We have a pretty good freshman class. We could make some noise next year."
Wheaton North could very well fill be a serious contender in the league hierarchy behind senior leader Berry, a returning sectional qualifier.
The West Suburban Conference is a league whose reputation is beyond question for producing excellent female players. This year is no different as Hinsdale Central and Lyons Twp. are poised to strike downstate gold.
But Addison Trail senior De La Cruz has emerged as one the top players in the league after qualifying for state the previous two seasons.
"Of course, I want to make it back to state," De La Cruz said. "I am working on hitting for longer distances. It's a nice challenge to play against the girls from Hinsdale and LT. I love competing. That's what I love about competition is meeting new people."
Downers Grove North has already captured an invitational this week, and Glenbard West has a senior-dominated lineup. Hinsdale South coach Julie Sweet has anointed Buddig as "one of the top girls in the area."
The three Hinsdale Central seniors are all state-hardened in welcoming new head coach Nick Latorre. York is another team that could certainly surprise at the conference tournament in early October. Carlquist is the Dukes' top player. "It's such a difficult conference,"` York coach Barb Tilden said.
Benet lost state qualifier Kaitlyn Kline to Metea Valley, but coach Tony LaScala has one of the top freshmen in the area in Abbdula, who tied for second at the Naperville City Championship on Tuesday.
There is an increased presence for the final year of the Suburban Christian Conference. Established program St. Francis looks to juniors Bland and Pins to reach the Class A state finals. Wheaton Academy is playing a full varsity schedule for the first time since the program was established last year.
"We're choosing our opponents wisely," Wheaton Academy coach Haley Martin said.
Immaculate Conception coach Don Sujack suggested incoming freshman Hart could have a major impact on the Class A tournament as she matures.
Lisle is another Class A program with designs on the state series. The Lions are the defending Interstate Eight champion.
"We have two goals: one is to win conference again and second one is to advance to the sectional as a team," Lisle coach Scott Waibel said.
Key dates: Aug. 24, Hersey Invite; Sept. 7, Homewood-Flossmoor Invite; Sept. 7, Waukegan Invite; Sept. 14, Normal Community Invite; Sept. 21, Rockford Guilford Invite; Sept. 21, Providence Catholic Invite; Sept. 28, Naperville North Invite; Week of Sept. 30, Conference championships; Oct. 5, Rosary Invite.
-- Kevin McGavin