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updated: 9/23/2013 6:42 PM

Love of the game takes St. Viator's Gattone to Champaign

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  • Dana Gattone of St. Viator has lined up a future in golf at Illinois.

       Dana Gattone of St. Viator has lined up a future in golf at Illinois.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 

Dana Gattone, a sports and entertainment writer for St. Viator's school newspaper, is considering a major of communications in college.

One thing is for sure.

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Her golf club communicates with the golf ball as well as any of the top players in the state.

While the 4-foot-11 senior may be one of the shortest elite golfers in the state, she stood tall in the eyes of college recruiters.

Gattone recently made a verbal commitment to play for the University of Illinois women's golf team.

"I was looking for a great balance of academics and golf," Gattone said. "And Illinois really gives me that. I feel like being surrounded by great players and a great team will push me to do my best."

Gattone was the best in the East Suburban Catholic Conference last fall, winning the league meet.

She has qualified for state the past three years.

Gattone's top two rounds have come at the Deerfield Golf Club.

She shot a 33 for nine holes on the front nine in the 2012 St. Viator Invite, which included nearly 60 players. Her best 18-hole performance was less than 10 days ago in this year's Viator Invite when she shot a 1-under par 71.

Gattone's short game is one of the best in the state.

"It's incredible," said Lions coach Mick Drewes. "From within 30 yards of the green, she is unbelievable."

Gattone said that is the part of her game she has worked on the longest.

"I grew up playing longer courses so the short game was even more important because I couldn't reach every green," Gattone said. "So I knew if I could chip and putt, I could play my best game."

The Illini won't be disappointed in Gattone's work off the tee, either.

"Her long game picked up a lot of distance over the past summer," Drewes said. "Dana just kept getting stronger and stronger. She can compete with anyone now."

Gattone has been competing for as long as she can remember.

The year after she was born in 1995, her father picked up golf and joined the Medinah Country Club.

Dana and her brothers, Joe and Rick, all started playing the historic course, which has hosted five major PGA tournaments and the 2012 Ryder Cup.

"My favorite part of the sport is that the entire family can play," said Dana, an A honor roll student and National Honor Society member. "We can go out and play with our grandparents, uncles, cousins, whoever. That's the best part."

Gattone said the best part about playing her college days at Illinois will be the proximity.

"I'm very excited because I know my parents (Joe and Sue) are happy that I'll be close," she said. "It's just a car ride from home."

The Gattone home also has two other former IHSA standout golfers. Joe and Rick were state qualifiers for Driscoll High School and St. Viator, respectively. Rick is currently the captain for Northwestern University's club hockey team.

"We're all big hockey fans," Gattone said. Dana is also a big fan of PGA golfer Luke Donald, the 2011 PGA Player of the Year who also won the NCAA individual men's championship when he was at Northwestern.

"He has one of the better short games on the tour," Gattone said. "He is usually one of the top five ranked players in the world and he is not one of the taller players.

"He always plays with a lot of class and heart and that's something I admire. He is a great role model."

Gattone also has another role model.

Blue Kelly, a Division 1 player at Tulsa and a member of its 1987-1988 NCAA championship team, has been a mentor and a friend of Gattone's for many years.

This past summer, Gattone qualified for the U.S. Girl's Junior Championships at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Indiana.

All the players in the select field received a hat clip that included their names with "U.S. Girls' Junior Championship' written below it.

Players save the special token as a souvenir from the tournament.

"I was ecstatic to make the cut of the top 54 and move on to match play," Gattone said. When Gattone returned home from Indiana, she found an envelope waiting for her with her name on it.

Inside was a note from Kelly, reading "looks like I'm in good company" and Kelly's own hat pin from 1984 was inside.

"Although it was a little rusty, it was one of the most meaningful mementos I have ever received," Gattone said. "If I ever have doubt as to whether or not I can achieve a goal, I look to her hat pin, which sits beside mine, and I know that I have people supporting me every step of the way."

Women's soccer

Augustana improved to 6-0-2 with a 3-0 shutout over visiting Greenville as freshman Jessa Rizzo (Fremd) got the Vikings on the board in the 13th minute, scoring her team-high fifth goal.

• Southern Methodist University freshman Bari Kesner of Long Grove scored her first collegiate goal during the Mustangs' 4-0 victory against Sam Houston State in Dallas. Kesner tallied the team's fourth goal in the 79th minute.

• Clemson senior midfielder Vanessa Laxgang of Arlington Heights scored an unassisted goal as the Tigers defeated Boston College, 2-1, for their first ACC win of the season.

Men's soccer

Robert Morris senior forward Gordy Gurson of Buffalo Grove was named CCAC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time.

Gurson tallied the lone goal as Robert Morris upset NAIA No. 2-ranked Hannibal-LaGrange College (Mo.), 1-0.

Earlier this season, Gurson tallied all four of the Eagles' goals in a 4-2 victory against Bethel College (Ind.) to earn the weekly honor. Gurson was the 2011 CCAC Player of the Year.

Feeder tryouts

The St. Viator Junior Lions are holding their boys basketball feeder tryouts on Sept. 28 and Oct. 6 for sixth through eighth grades. For details, contact Joe Rooney, Boys Feeder Director, at (630) 202-0302 or at LITERAL121@juno.com.

Fremd End-Zone Tailgate

The first Fremd Football Alumni End-Zone Tailgate night will be held on Friday, Oct. 11 when the Vikings host Palatine.

Cost for the tailgate and reception in the north end zone is $5 per person.

Food will be served between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance and do not include game tickets. RSVP no later than Oct 4. at FremdFootballAlumniAssociation@gmail.com.

In addition, coaches and players from the 1992 Fremd football team will be honored.

For more information, visit the Fremd football website.

Football

Sophomore quarterback Sam Frasco (Prospect) had a rushing touchdown on Augustana's opening possession of the second half when the Vikings improved to 2-1 on Saturday with a 35-10 victory at Loras. Frasco has carried 38 times this season for 139 yards and 2 touchdown and has completed 34 of 58 pass attempts (58.6 percent) for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Arlington Stallions Rugby Club

On the last play of a high-scoring game, Joel Krueger dove over the goal line for a try to give the Arlington Stallions their first win over the Waubonsie Chiefs in two years.

Man-of-the-Match Krueger's effort capped a four-try second half by the Stallions to overcome a 33-17 halftime deficit for a 39-33 victory.

Outside backs Jack Tuttle, Christos Analitis and Aiden Williams combined for five of the Stallions' seven tries.

The Stallions Fall Ball squad is now 2-0 and take on the Palatine Pioneers this Saturday at the Busse Woods Forest Preserve.

• Please email Sports Notes items to jleusch@dailyherald.com or FAX to (847) 427-1173.

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