Girls golf: Zheng, Neuqua Valley nip Naperville North for DVC crown

 
By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/22/2021 5:44 PM

Sarah Zheng has flirted with par or better in an 18-hole tournament round far more than once this girls golf season.

But it was a workmanlike performance for the Neuqua Valley senior at Phillips Park in Aurora on Wednesday afternoon.

 

"I didn't play how I wanted to, but it was enough to pull through at the end," Zheng said after her third individual tournament title this fall.

Zheng was the sole golfer to break 80 at the DuPage Valley Conference championship as Neuqua Valley, with sophomore Rebecca Wu providing able support with a runner-up 80, completed an impeccable league season with a 333-334 triumph over Naperville North.

Zheng surprisingly failed to make a birdie one day after DuKane Conference champion Reese Clark (Geneva) fashioned seven on the same par-72 layout.

But the 78 Zheng crafted was the linchpin of the Wildcats' fifth tournament title of the season.

"I kind of just scrambled today," said Zheng, who will compete at Minnesota-based Carleton College next year. "Nothing was working really great, but I didn't have any high numbers on the scorecard."

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Wu, meanwhile, had a birdie on each nine.

"Just like Sarah," Wu said of her overall play. "Honestly, I didn't play very well today. I have been playing a lot better than the beginning of the season."

Sophie Lagman (85) and Brooke Vandermyde (90) were the Wildcats' third and fourth contributing players.

In defending their league title, the Neuqua Valley athletes have an overriding ambition: to break a 19-year Class 2A team state-qualifying drought.

"It's something that hovers over your head the whole season," John Keller, the only coach in Neuqua Valley history, said of the Wildcats' postseason prospects. "This team is capable. To win conference is gratifying. (Naperville North has) been an elite program for the last 10 years -- and even before that."

Naperville North was led by state veterans Erica Lei and Ashlyn Bhatia, who were third and a tiebreaker fourth, with rounds of 84 and 85.

"I didn't think too badly of (my score)," Lei said. "But I think I should be playing better at this point of the season."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I am pretty happy with where my game is at right now," Bhatia said. "I would like to be more consistent in my rounds."

Metea Valley (358), technically second on the season on the basis of its two regular-season wins over Naperville North, defeated Waubonsie Valley on a team tiebreaker for third.

Naperville Central finished with a 370.

Kelly Cong was fifth for Waubonsie Valley with an 85.

"I love this course a lot," said Cong. "I actually shot my personal-best (round, a 74, at the Aurora City Meet) here a few weeks ago."

DeKalb had two varsity players -- Alexus Morrow and Alaina Swafford -- compete as individuals.

"I would love to have a (separate) boys and girls program," DeKalb coach Brad Kerkman said. "Sometimes the girls don't benefit playing with the boys from the longer tees."

Morrow shot an 88 to finish 14th overall.

"She was pretty consistent all day off the tee," Kerkman said of Murrow. "On the first 10 holes, she had five or six one-putts, so she was getting up and down very nicely. She probably played her best round of the year."

Swafford had a 97 to place in the Top 25.

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