Girls golf: Barrington rises to the top again
When you're one of the all-time winningest girls golf champions in your conference, depth most certainly plays a major part.
Never was that more the case for Barrington than Thursday at the Mount Prospect Golf Club, where the four-time defending regular season champs won the battle of Mid-Suburban League unbeatens.
Going into the showdown, Barrington's No. 6 player, senior Phebe Chen, had never been lower than 40 for a nine-hole event.
On Thursday, she fired an even-par 35 on the front nine.
Sophomore teammate Mara Janess also shot par to help lead the Fillies (144) to the win over host Prospect (153) and Palatine (222).
"Phebe has been working so hard," said Fillies first-year coach Tim Martin, whose team is 11-0 while Prospect stands at 9-1. "We've been feeling a breakout was coming for her and today it came.
"I'm really proud of her. She hit the ball so well and was clutch around the greens."
"My short game is not always great for me," said Chen, who made a birdie on the par 3, No. 3 hole. "Today it was good. This feels real good with conference and the postseason coming up."
Completing the Fillies' scorecard were senior Samantha Saile (36) and Wake Forest recruit Caroline Smith (38).
"We all were just keeping the ball in play," said Janess, who equaled her best of even-par for a nine hole event on the same course the MSL meet will be played at on Oct. 1. "Phebe really helped us. We were all making a lot of pars and getting some birdies."
"We feel really great having multiple players shooting even par and then with Samantha at 36 and Caroline (three-time defending MSL champ) was great as usual," Martin said.
"Phebe's score was really big. It was a close match, and Prospect is a really good team and tough to beat on its home course."
Knights senior ace Kelly Kavanagh was as tough as expected on her home turf, registering medalist honors with a 34, that included the shot of the day on the par 4 sixth hole.
After landing a perfect drive of nearly 300 yards right in the middle of the fairway, Kavanagh used her pitching wedge to hole the 60-yard approach shot and record her second eagle on her home course.
Incredibly, her first came on the first hole of her career as a freshman varsity player from about 100 yards out.
"Right before that shot (on Thursday), my teammate (Ella Knee) jokingly said I was going to get an eagle and I'd dedicate it to her," said Kavanagh, whose best nine holes is a 32 she shot at Mount Prospect to start her junior year.
"Then I set up and took a confident swing. That was nice, and funny that Ella had said that. And it was nice because it took a lot of pressure off my shoulders the last three holes."
Knights coach Brad Rathe was no more than 10 yards away as he watched Kavanagh bring the day's biggest cheer with her eagle that followed a nifty birdie on No. 5.
"Our team kind of starts and goes with Kelly," said Rathe, also a first-year coach. "Going out there and making birdie-eagle, that gets us going and gives everyone else confidence.
"Kelly is such a good kid and has such a good attitude. And she has become a good leader even though she is definitely a quiet kid. So it's been fun to watch."
Following Kavanagh on the Prospect scorecard were Bri Arzbaecher (38), Emma Preissing (39) and Lizzy Dini (42).
"This gives us confidence," Rathe said. "That's a legitimate score (153) we shot so it's exciting and really good for these kids. Bri, our No. 5 golfer, shot a career-best 38. She ended birdie-birdie so I'm proud of her."
Three-sport athlete Olivia Radtke (basketball and soccer) paced Palatine with a 45.
Martin said Chen couldn't have picked a better time to produce her career-best round.
"A great time to do it," he said. "Two undefeated teams playing for the regular-season conference title and these kids really came up big (just 3 strokes off their season best 141). They've been working so hard. I've got some great seniors. Caroline just really got them focused this week for this match and you saw what happened."