Girls golf: Janess, Barrington dominate regional
Barrington's Mara Janess completed her sophomore season last year at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur with a thrilling victory in a 1-hole playoff to claim the Class 2A girls golf state championship.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her junior season came to an end Wednesday with a little less fanfare and drama at the Class 2A Barrington regional at Bonnie Dundee Golf Course in Carpentersville -- though still plenty of golf excellence.
Janess shook off a slow start to play the final 15 holes at 5-under, firing a 68 on the par 71 layout to win by five shots over teammate Sophia Sulkar.
While not having a chance to defend her state title is bittersweet, Janess preferred to focus on the positives.
"It's just great we are able to have a season overall," the junior said. "Although we can't have a state we still worked really hard and had a great season and I'm proud of how we did. No state is out of our control."
Barrington did advance to next Monday's Class 2A Dundee-Crown sectional at Randall Oaks. Janess won't be playing, however, having already committed to an AJGA tournament in Jacksonville, Fla.
Janess left for that event after finishing her round Wednesday. She entered the Florida tournament, which runs Saturday through Monday, when the IHSA originally had said there would not be a golf sectional.
"When they added one back in I was really hoping it would be Tuesday," Janess said. "But I trust my team and am looking forward to hearing how they do Monday."
Janess, who said the Florida tournament plays about 6,200 yards, tore apart the 4,900-yard track at Bonnie-Dundee. Her long drives regularly left her with short pitches.
That started on No. 4, a 285-yard par 4. Janess took out the frustrations of bogeys on the second and third holes with a drive that nearly reached the green. She chipped within a foot for a tap-in birdie.
Janess also birdied No. 5 and No. 7 to shoot 1-under on the front, and added birdies on 16 and 18 on the back.
Sophomore Simran Singh (75) and freshman Leah Galdos (78) joined Janess and Galdos with counting scores in Barrington's 294 -- 46 shots ahead of runner-up Burlington Central.
"I'm so proud of everyone," Janess said. "Everyone did so well. It's a perfect day out here. Everyone played their game. We know this course so well."
Burlington Central, coming off its first Fox Valley Conference in any sport last week, earned the second sectional spot by 1 shot over Huntley -- another first for the school.
The Rockets led Huntley by 10 shots at the turn, then hung on for dear life over the final few holes.
"We're really excited to be advancing," senior Kelsey O'Connor said. "We usually just have one or two individuals. It's especially exciting to be advancing especially since the scores were so close today. I didn't play my best but I am really happy for the other girls who were able to compensate for what I didn't do."
O'Connor's 87 joined senior Emily Koh (83), junior Maya Gusciora (85) and sophomore Teagan O'Connor (85) as counting scores.
"It was about my mindset today," said Teagan O'Connor, whose score was a career best. "In the early part of the season I was getting mad and now I am relaxing and playing and going shot by shot. At the end I added it up and realized my mentality helped a lot."
"I started off with a birdie and it went downhill for awhile and then I got back into my groove on the back 9," added Gusciora, whose 41 on the back was key in holding off Huntley.
The Red Raiders did advance three individuals: Nina Shaffer (82), Loreiei Oomens (83) and Molly Baker (83).
"They didn't play their best today," Huntley coach Ann Christiansen said. "All the girls made that extra putt on the green they shouldn't have. Can't pinpoint it on anyone. We played out here in matches and they shot 37, 36. It's hard to see when they start to struggle. All those little things. You get above the pin and you are looking at least a 3-putt."
Fremd sophomore Sarah Sim nabbed the final individual sectional spot with an 86.