Girls golf: Neuqua 2nd, Waubonsie 3rd at 2A Plainfield North regional

Shyell Lowe is loving her high school golf experience.

While the Oswego co-op senior didn't like how she played hole no. 8 at Whitetail Ridge Golf Club during Thursday's Class 2A Plainfield North regional, she had to love how she finished her round, winning medalist honors with a 2-over-par 73 to lead the team past Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley for the regional championship.

All three teams advance to Monday's Class 2A Burlington Central sectional at Whisper Creek in Huntley.

"I love it, because it's like a team atmosphere," Lowe said. "Because with a lot of the other tours and things I'm on, it's very individualized, which makes sense since it's golf. Here it's team-based, and I'm happy if Katelin (Hong) beats me, or if I beat Katelin, we're happy for each other. It's not a huge competition.

"I'm always happy here, and they're always happy for me, which we don't see outside of the high school golf experience."

Just five strokes separated the three sectional qualifying teams, as the Oswego co-op led the way with a 323 and was followed by Neuqua Valley's 326 and Waubonsie Valley's 331.

Lowe had five birdies, while Hong had two to finish a stroke behind at 74. No other golfer had more than a single birdie.

"I didn't think I was going to get five or six birdies. I was like, 'That's a lot of birdies,' " Lowe said. "I'm really excited that we won. We haven't had a plaque on our wall before, so having that there I'll be able to come back and be like, 'Oh, that's the year won it.' I love it."

Sophomore Kendall Grant posted an 82. At last year's regional, Grant carded a 100.

"It was really nice to be around people who have (played in a regional) a lot before me," Grant said. "My regional last year wasn't very good, but it was more about the experience and not about how I played. I was a lot less nervous (today) and knew what to expect, so it was easier to play my game."

Grant was 10-over on the front but had a personal-best 1-over 36 on the back. Hong had a 37 on both the front and back.

"My goal was just for us to go to sectional," Hong said. "When I finished, I was like, 'Did we make it?' and they were like, 'We won!' I knew we had a shot, but I wasn't sure how the other teams played exactly."

Senior Mary Quaid, whose 94 accounted for Oswego co-op's final team score, loves the fact that her final season will extend into October.

"It's just been fun," she said. "We get along so much. If one of us does bad, someone will pick us up. Even if it's not golf and just stuff and we need someone to talk to, we're there for each other."

The ideal "there" destination would be state.

"(The sectional) will be fun, but I want state," Lowe said. "I want the whole team to go and have a party. It'll be awesome."

Senior Rebecca Wu carded 12 pars and six bogeys to pace the Wildcats with a 77.

"I think I did OK, but felt I could've hit the ball better," she said. "There definitely were some shots I wish I could hit again."

Senior Mady Coffey followed with a 79, while senior Sophie Layman scored an 84. Junior Carley Rogers had an 86.

"The mindset was to get to sectional, and we accomplished that, so I'm pretty happy with that," Coffey said. "We all probably didn't play our best, but I think we were good enough, and we can come out on Monday and play a little bit better."

Waubonsie Valley senior Kelly Cong kept her round clean, never bogeying on consecutive holes while earning 14 pars. She tied Hong with a 74.

'My goal was just to keep a calm mind," Cong said. "A lot of times when I make a bad mistake or three-putt, according to my coach all I have to do is think I'm going to hit a great shot the next shot. Every shot counts. If I give up now, there's no coming back."

Sophomore Hannah Lee added an 85, while senior Meadow Rolence and freshman Mina Shyam each scored an 86 to send the Warriors onward.

"I'm really proud of our team," Cong said. "I feel like we've improved so much over the course of the year."

Plainfield North is sending a big chunk of its squad to the sectional as senior Jessica Knight (82), sophomore Michelle Knight (87) and juniors Maggie Spencer (88) and Grace Gilbert (88) were among the top-10 finishers who didn't play on a team qualifying. The Tigers (345) were fourth overall.

Plainfield East junior Lauren Reinertson (80) and freshman Hope Trosclair (85) qualified individually for the Bengals (352), who placed fifth.

Naperville Central sophomores Ashika Patel (87) and Poppy Marusin (92), West Aurora senior Grace Lawless (88), and Plainfield South sophomore Hayden Justis (89) also qualified.

"I didn't know I was going to be able to do it, but oh my God, finally it could be done, and I get to play again," Justis said. "It was the best 18 I've played. I think I was just hitting good drives and playing with confidence. I wanted to break 90 for 18, and I did that."

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