Nikki Marquardt's golf season has gone so nicely that not even a tournament that hasn't always been kind to her was going to stop the Stevenson senior.
Marquardt did Tuesday what she's done all season.
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Her round? Kind of nice.
She earned medalist honors, shooting a 78 on a sunny but windy fall afternoon to edge Lake Forest's Emily Young by 1 stroke in the Grant-hosted North Suburban Conference championship at Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest.
Marquardt, a four-year varsity player who verbally committed to Eastern Michigan at the start of the season, carded a disappointing 90 in the NSC tourney last year.
"Conference hasn't always been my strongest thing," Marquardt said. "So I'm happy. This (tournament) is kind of a collection of the local girls and to be able to (win) is fun."
A shotgun start saw Marquardt tee off on the first hole. She shot a 38 on the front nine and a 40 on the back. She played with Young, Zion-Benton's Morgan Kukla and Mundelein's Courteney Fabbri. Libertyville senior Emma Hoskins fired a career-best 80 to finish third. Fabbri's 81 placed her fourth, while Libertyville freshman Simone Mikaelian and Kukla each carded an 84 to finish fifth and sixth, respectively
Hoskins and Mikaelian helped Libertyville shoot a winning 356, but runner-up Lake Forest (360) was declared the overall conference champ thanks to the Scouts' better conference dual-meet record. Mundelein (369), Stevenson (370) and Vernon Hills (376) rounded out the top five.
Marquardt played "solidly" early on, she said. She walked off the No. 14 green at 1-over par but then triple-bogeyed the par-3 15th, hooking a 5-iron off the tee and eventually 3-putting. Two holes later, she carded a double-bogey 6 after an errant drive.
She had chipped in for birdie on No. 11 and had nearly duplicated the feat on the 13th hole, settling for a tap-in par.
"Except for a few holes," Marquardt said, "my putting and short game were pretty strong."
Stevenson's No. 1 player broke 40 in every nine-hole match during the regular season, capturing medalist honors in all but one, and prior to Tuesday she had won three 18-hole events (Prospect, Lake County and Waukegan). Trying to make amends for her performance at conference last year was not on her mind.
"Ancient history, I would say," Marquardt said. "I've done so well this year that it had no bearing on me."
Hoskins' best round came three days after the Libertyville senior shot a personal-best 85 in Freeport's Pretzel invite at Park Hills.
"I kind of freaked out on the first few holes because I was nervous, but I knew if I relaxed I could play really well," said Hoskins, who played in the conference's JV tournament last year. "I work at Pine Meadow, so that's like my second home. I practice there a lot with my (swing) coach. I've put in a lot of hours, and it's paying off. And now is when it counts."
Hoskins sports large, black-rimmed glasses. She was seeing the ball well, apparently.
"I can't see," she said with a laugh.
Fabbri flirted with breaking 80, something she's done repeatedly, but the tough-luck Mustangs senior double-bogeyed the 18th. Like her playing-partner Marquardt, Fabbri struggled on the par-3 15th, four-putting for a double-bogey. She had a three-putt earlier.
She's shot an 80 three times this season.
"It's like Groundhog Day," Fabbri said. "It's really terrible."
Her personal-best last year was a 77, and she knows this season isn't over yet.
"I've saving it for regionals and sectionals," Fabbri sad, laughing. "That's my attitude."
Dogged by a stress fracture in her foot that hampers her when walking the course, Vernon Hills senior Shannon Healey tweaked a muscle in her right shoulder last Saturday.
"It's really painful," Healey said. "Breathing is painful."
Despite her aches, Healey led the Cougars with an 89 to finish seventh. Kari Lee (93, 14th) also medaled for Vernon Hills.
"My putting and chipping were really good," Healey said.
Healey, who played the back nine first and finished by carding a 43 on the front, had never broken 90.
"One of the girls in my group (Warren's Katrina Steffy) added up my score and I was like, 'Don't tell me,' " Healey said.
Healey's playing partners told her.
"I was like almost crying," Healey said. "I was so surprised."
Warren (382, sixth) also boasted two all-conference golfers in senior Gabby Cordova (92, 10th) and the freshman Steffy (93, 12th). Other medalists included Stevenson's Alexia Fidman (91, ninth), Wauconda's Annette Yandall (92, 11th) and Mundelein's Cristina Loverde (93, 13th).
Besides the rounds of Hoskins and Mikaelian, Libertyville received matching 96s from Jessica Lovinger and Megan Sturonas.
Lake Forest counted the rounds of Young, Allie Hubbard (90, eighth), Steff Pintas (95, 15th) and Genevieve Foster (96).