While some girls golf programs around the Fox Valley continue to struggle for participation numbers, St. Charles North coach Chris Patrick and Geneva coach Eric Hatczel have a different problem, one of those good problems to have: choosing which of their girls will play each day.
The depth and consistency of the North Stars and Vikings was evident Monday at the 9-hole Elgin Country Club Invitational. St. Charles North, fueled by a 3-over par medalist round of 38 from freshman Gianna Furrie, won the event with a 168 while Geneva came in second at 183 despite not having an individual in the top five.
Huntley, led by a 41 from junior Gillian Young, was a surprising third with a 186. Batavia (201) and Burlington Central (204) rounded out the top five in the 11-team event. St. Edward had three individuals compete and was led by junior Ryann Scully, who had a 47 despite carding a 10 on the par-5 eighth hole.
"We've been pretty consistent 1-8 this year," said Patrick, whose team is hoping to advance to state for the first time since 2006. "It's nice to have them carrying each other. They've played real well this year and they have a good attitude about golf."
Furrie had never played the Elgin Country Club course before so she came into Monday's competition with no lofty expectations.
"I just tried not to take any risks," said Furrie, whose graduated sister Ariana finished 16th at last year's rain-shortened state tournament. "I just wanted to help my team. Getting my team to state is the goal."
Furrie's putter was sizzling Monday. She needed just 12 strokes from the nine greens to win the first-place medal.
"My putting went really well today," she said. "I was making a lot of putts."
Freshman Katie Lillie had a 40 for the North Stars, while Carly Hudon shot 43 and Gabi Spinazze added a 47.
While St. Charles North shot the same exact score it had to win this event last year, Geneva finished second again but this time 10 shots better than a year ago. Senior Nicole Hassels led the way for the Vikings with a 44, Allie Henrie had a 45, and Kari Kirl and Mary Clare Novak each came in with 47s.
"It's unbelievable," said Hatczel of his team's consistency. "It makes my job tougher deciding who is in each match and who isn't. They've done a nice job this year. Nicole led us today with a 44 and everyone of the girls has that range. We're just waiting for the day they collectively put it together. Maybe at conference."
Huntley's Young decided Monday would be a good day to try using her driver again, and she's glad she did. After using her 7-wood to drive with for the better part of the last month, Young, who had never played the Elgin Country Club course, used her driver to her advantage on the long country club layout to take third place individually and help her team take home a trophy as well.
"I just came into it with an open mind and no high expectations," she said. "I had a friend who had played here give me a heads up about some things I had to look for but I just played it with an open mind.
"I hadn't been trusting my driver; everything was hooking right. But with this long course I figured why not try it and it worked out pretty well. It helps my confidence a lot."
Red Raiders' coach Anne Christiansen, whose team is 7-0 in dual meets this season. was ecstatic over her team's performance heading into Tuesday's McHenry County meet at Boone Creek in Bull Valley. In addition to Young's 41, Huntley counted a 46 from Zoe Dowell and a 48 from Leah Virzi while Lexi Lowitski shot a 51.
"Very surprised," said Christiansen of the third-place finish. "When you have (11) teams you never know and there are some good teams here. We're pretty excited."
Batavia's fourth-place finish was led by a 48 from Lauren Anderson. Becca Hasemann, Erin Ewert and Emily Clark each had 51s for the Bulldogs.
Burlington Central was paced by a 41 from Jenna Kurosky, which was good for the fourth-place medal. Allison Colby had a 46 for the Rockets, Josie Kurosky shot a 49 and Kendra Graham had a 68.
Dundee-Crown's Kylie Kost was the only other scoring golfer to break 50. She had a 47.