Girls golf: Barrington, Prospect bring numbers downstate
For the first time, Barrington senior Reena Sulkar will have plenty of familiar faces with her at the Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur.
Sulkar, who will become only the sixth Fillie to play four years in the IHSA girls golf state tournament, shot a 2-under par 73 Monday to help Barrington advance as a team to the state finals for the first time since 2007.
Followed by freshman Caroline Smith (76), sophomore Nicole Ciskowski (78) and sophomore Ishani Majmudar (83), the Fillies scored a 310 to take second place behind New Trier (304) in the Class 2A Buffalo Grove sectional.
Prospect, which was second to Barrington in the Mid-Suburban League meet two weeks ago, also qualified as a team with a 330, 3 strokes ahead of Loyola (333) on the par-75 Buffalo Grove Golf Club layout.
"I'm so excited to bring my team with me my final year," said Sulkar, who tied for second behind sophomore medalist Penelope Tir of New Trier (71). "It's good timing."
Sulkar birdied four holes while shooting a 1-under 36 on the front and 1-under 37 on the back.
"There were some missed opportunities," said the two-time MSL champion. " But in general, I played pretty solid."
Smith had solid rounds of 37 and 39, including 4 birdies.
"I wasn't striking the ball real well," she said. "It was my putting that saved me -- no three-putts. I made a couple of 15-footers."
Smith was more elated for her team.
"I knew we could do this -- our team had been playing so well," she said. "When they didn't make it down state last year, that motivated these girls even more."
It is the tenth time Hall of Fame coach Jodi Schoeck will take a team to the state finals, the first being 1988 (eighth place).
"She is such a wonderful coach," Smith said. "She is so positive. She takes care of us. I love her death. Just a wonderful person."
The Fillies' best state finish was third in 1996.
"I am so proud of these girls and how hard they have worked," Schoeck said. "I feel so fortunate to have one more week with this team.
"We've got 10 golfers (Allie Quinn, Shivani Majmudar, Akshara Ramakrishnan, Swetha Seshadri, Maggie Hoffman, Olivia Lee) and everyone was here cheering on the team. All 10 have played such a huge part to this point."
Coach Jim Hamann was just as proud of his Knights, who had lower head-to-head scores against Loyola in two earlier meets this fall.
Prospect senior Kate Ponzi turned in the finest postseason score of her career with a 1-over 76 (37-39) that included 4 birdies.
"I was just going hole by hole and staying in the present moment," Ponzi said of her big round. "We have been working as a team to keep our confidence up and having good body language."
"Kate has really turned the corner the last two weeks," Hamann said. "We made a couple of minor adjustments and her confidence is at a high now. She is playing confident, loose and fearless. Hopefully it rubs off on everyone else."
Completing the Knights' scorecard were sophomore Emily Fleming (82), freshman Kelly Kavanagh (84) and senior Mary Schafer (88).
"To qualify with the teams in our regional (New Trier) and sectional is incredibly difficult and the girls persevered," said Hamann, who has qualfied his sixth Prospect team for the state finals. "Our depth, and belief in each other, paid off today. The girls have been getting better and better the last four weeks and they got better again today. One of my proudest accomplishments as a golf coach (he has two state titles and a second place) is helping this year's team qualify for the state tournament."
Among the local individual players to qualify were Grant junior KiLynn Gold (74), Jacobs senior Stephanie Fiorentino (77), Buffalo Grove junior Hairi Lee (77), Wheeling sophomore Adrienne Rohwedder (78) and Hersey senior Megan Kopeny (79), who advanced in the most dramatic fashion.
Kopeny, a Winthrop University recruit, was involved in a four-way tie for the final two individual spots in Decatur.
The field was down to three after one playoff hole and the tiebreaker was finally decided on the fourth hole where Kopeny and Sophia Lau of Glenbrook South made pars to advance.
"I was just trying to relax, humming to myself and trying to listen the crowd," Kopeny said of the tense playoff in which she earned her first trip to state in four years. "To make it my senior year was my goal, and I just barely did it."
Kopeny escaped the third payoff hole when she sank a curving 18-foot putt to save par and draw big applause from the numerous fans watching as darkness was quickly settling in.
"I really needed that putt," Kopeny said. "It was a little left to right and another girl had the same putt in my group earlier in the day so I had seen it before. That helped. It's really great to have my first chance to play down state. It will be awesome."
Libertyville senior Simone Mikaelian, a three-time state qualifier, parred the first three holes of the playoff before falling to Kopeny and Lau.
"Simone had a great career," said Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen. "They were all out there making great golf shots (in the playoff). Credit that Hersey girl for making that 18-footer.
"We are proud of Simone. She had a fantastic career as one of the best golfers in school history."
Rohwedder will be the first female golfer from Wheeling High School to play in a state tournament. She shot a 41 and came back with a 37 on the back nine.
"It feels good," the sophomore said. "The beginning was kind of rough but I kind of came back on the back nine."
"Adrienne is a grinder," said Wildcats coach Peggy Ellsworth. "It was fun to see."
Schaumburg sectional: Schaumburg junior Jennifer Cappello shot an 85 at Fox Run Golf Club in Elk Grove to qualify as an individual for Friday's Class 2A IHSA state tourney at Hickory Point in Decatur.
St. Charles North (312) won the team title followed by Wheaton Warrenville South (325) and St. Charles East (340). Conant (368) was fifth and Schaumburg (377) placed seventh.