Girls golf: Prospect rings the championship bell
The remote school day at Prospect starts at about 10 a.m.
But the girls on the golf team are up and about long before that.
They've been meeting up at the Mount Prospect Golf Club, their home course, at 7 a.m. each day to get in some extra rounds.
This isn't an official team practice, but the Knights, led by seniors Emma Preissing, Bri Arzbaecher, Josie Kaczkowski and Bella Peshek, weren't satisfied with just their after-school practices.
"We've been putting in so much work," Preissing said. "If we're lucky, we'll get in 18 holes in the morning. If not, we'll do at least 9, or we'll just practice shots.
"We are all so passionate about golf."
That passion and extra work translated into a championship on Wednesday. Prospect ran away with the Class 2A IHSA girls regional at Schaumburg Golf Club.
The Knights finished with a 324, besting second-place York (343) by a whopping 19 strokes. Both teams qualify for Tuesday's sectional at Arlington Lakes Golf Course in Arlington Heights.
Rolling Meadows finished in third with a 352.
"I think (playing before school) has helped a lot," Arzbaecher said. "It gives us a chance to focus on our own games and that helps us improve. That extra work really helps and shows in the scores for everyone."
It particularly showed in the scores for Preissing and Arzbaecher, who have been Prospect's top two golfers all season.
Preissing won the regional championship by shooting a 75, while Arzbaecher was right behind in second place with a 76. Third place went to Marisa Lorario of Lake Park with a 79 while Emily Akers of Schaumburg finished in fourth with an 82. Elle Borchardt of York and Sadie Zorrilla of Conant tied for fifth, each with an 83.
"Emma and Bri have been our No. 1 and No. 2 all year, really our No. 1a and 1b," Prospect coach Brad Rathe said. "Their average on the year is about .1 or .2 apart from each other. "They've been at the top of our lineup all year.
"And they've been leading this senior group and they're an impressive group. Going out to the course every day before school, that wasn't my idea, it was theirs. And then practicing after school, they've been working so hard and the younger kids see that and follow that. Just a lot of hard work by everyone, and I'm just so proud of them that they've gotten to where they are."
The Knights, who qualified for the sectional last year but came up just short of making it to state, are looking to return to their glory days of seven to nine years ago. In 2011 and 2013, Prospect won state championships. The team's last regional title came during that 2013 run.
Coming into this regional, the Knights were 14-3 and fared well in the rough Mid-Suburban League, finishing second to powerhouse Barrington.
"We've had some really good teams over the years," Rathe said. "The program is well established and we're trying to keep the ship moving forward."
Individuals who also qualified for the sectional at Arlington Lakes are: Lorario, Akers, Zorrilla and Margaret Lennon of Rolling Meadows (85).