Girls golf: Janess wins state championship, leading Barrington to 2nd
For two days at the Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur, the Stevenson and Barrington girls golf team were in a tightly-contested match race for the Class 2A state championship.
When it was over on Saturday, the Patriots (601) won in a photo finish by 1 stroke over the Fillies (602), who were second for the fourth straight year.
However, there was plenty of good news for the Mid-Suburban League champions, who lost to Stevenson by 7 strokes in the Buffalo Grove regional and by 8 shots in the Prospect sectional.
Barrington sophomore Mara Janess got to pose in the winner's circle for individual honors after winning a one-hole playoff over Glenbrook South junior Maria Perakis.
Both underclassmen navigated the first 36 holes in 147 strokes (3-over par) before Janess' par on the 37th hole made her Barrington's first state champion in program history.
Incredibly, the Fillies had two more players in the top five as senior Caroline Smith tied for third with Stevenson's Emily Duan and sophomore Sophia Sulkar tied for the fifth with Patriots freshman Allie Santos.
The Fillies had never even had two golfers place in the top five.
"It was a heavyweight fight for two days and give Stevenson all the credit," said Barrington first-year coach Tim Martin. "They played great and pulled it out but our girls played great, too, and I'm proud of them."
Janess has been on a roll since late last season when her game started coming together and she ended up 19th in Decatur.
She got rolling on the back nine Saturday, coming up with birdies on 11, 13, 14 and 16.
"She just clicked," Martin said. "She had a brilliant tee shot and made a difficult putt to birdie the par 3, No. 13 and that ignited her. All of the sudden she vaulted into the lead.
"On the playoff hole, she had a tough second shot with some tree interference. But she navigated it well and went on to par the hole."
"Going into the playoff hole, I knew Maria was a very good player," Janess said. "I was just hoping to stick to my process, stay relaxed and stick to what I always do and it obviously it paid off.
"It's unbelievable (winning the individual title). This makes me want to work all the more harder because there is so much more to come and bigger things in the future which is exciting."
It was quite an exiting career for Smith, whose next stop is Wake Forest.
She completed an outstanding career with her four Top 10 finishes in Decatur.
"What can you say about Caroline?" Martin said. "She is the best golfer we've had at Barrington, male or female. She was right there and gave us multiple chances to win this. She was great."
Smith finished just 1 stroke behind her teammate and friend.
"Caroline told me she obviously wanted to win but if it wasn't it her it had to be Mara, and it was," Martin said "When she learned Mara was going to win, she got so excited despite coming as close as she did to winning.
"They (Smith and Janess) were celebrating and hugging, and it just kept Mara in a good frame of mind for when she had to go back out for the playoff hole. It was neat to see from those two best friends who are inseparable, who train together and golf together."
Only a sophomore, Sulkar's fifth-place finish was quite impressive.
"As a sophomore that's an unbelievable accomplishment," Martin said. "She was so locked in and just played flawless golf for two days. She has been so good this season and seemingly didn't miss a shot the last two days few days. She is genius around the greens and really thinks her way around a golf course."
Senior Samantha Saile, senior Phebe Chen and junior Sophia Dennison were the others who helped push the Fillies to a great finish with Stevenson.
"Samantha easily had her best round in four years with a 76 on Friday which put us in great position, " Martin said. "Sophia Dennison continued her strong play in the postseason where she has played so well in the highest-level environment. Her 81 on Friday was her best round in Decatur and her best of the season. And Phebe had an 82 which we needed to stay in the hunt. After a tough start she buckled down and was fantastic."
In all, the six Fillies helped Barrington to its lowest score in a state final tournament.
"If you would have told me we'd shoot a 300 on Saturday, I would have said we'll be right there, and we were" Martin said. "All the credit to Stevenson and coach Emma (Degen). They are a powerhouse and we went toe-to-toe with them. We have nothing to hang our heads about. Emma did a tremendous job."
Martin was grateful to many.
"A big thank you goes out to my seniors," he added. "They have given so much to the program over the last four years. They put in so much hard work and set such high standards. And off the course, they are amazing young women. I'd also like to thank the parents and the community for the support. We had such a great turnout in Decatur.
"This was an unbelievable team. It's been the greatest privilege for me to coach this team."
Prospect senior and Drake recruit Kelly Kavanagh finished her outstanding four-year career with a 16th-place finish, including a 3-birdie round of 75 on Saturday.
Class 1A: St. Viator (128 over par) finished eighth at the Red Tail Run Golf Course in Decatur.
The Lions were led by junior Cate Reisinger, who finished in a four-way tie for eighth with a two-day score of 150 (par 72 on Saturday).
She was followed by junior Paige Klosterman (178), junior Jill Doherty (181), junior Katie Peterson (195), sophomore Claire Van Bergwn (205) and sophomore Sarah Hunt (214).