Girls golf: Stevenson team to beat, but Lake County has many strong teams, players

  • Mundelein's Kellie Shanahan is one of the top returning girls golfers in Lake County this season.

    Mundelein's Kellie Shanahan is one of the top returning girls golfers in Lake County this season. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Kiana Pouyat of Lake Zurich brings a solid game back to the course for the Bears this fall.

    Kiana Pouyat of Lake Zurich brings a solid game back to the course for the Bears this fall. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/13/2021 1:34 PM

While Stevenson is the team to beat in Lake County and certainly a strong contender to defend its 2019 Class 2A girls golf state title, there are plenty of others to keep an eye on during the 2021 season.

Starting in the North Suburban Conference, Mundelein took third in the NSC last year and qualified for the sectional for just the second time in school history. Back for the Mustangs are three-time sectional qualifiers Kellie Shanahan (5th in the sectional) and Maddy Forster, along with two-time sectional player Natalie Altenhoff. Senior McKenzie Begg also returns.

 

"With four seniors returning who have spent three years as varsity players, we are optimistic for a great season," Mundelein coach Tom Kuhn said. "These seniors are special group and have their sights set on some lofty goals."

Lake Zurich finished fourth in the NSC and qualified for the sectional in 2020. Senior Kiana Pouyat is back after averaging 42.7 a year ago, as is senior Emily Kaminsky (46.7 a year ago; down from 61.6 as a freshman). "Kiana will standout because of all the work she puts in each summer. She is continually improving," Bears coach Mel Fox said. "Emily will stand out because of her personal commitment to always play her best."

Libertyville and coach Greg Pedersen welcome back senior Lily McAuliffe (44.2 in 2020), junior Audrey Weadick and sophomores Katie Dirst and Jocelyn Hurh. Freshman Sophia Cesnovar also will help. "We should have consistent good scores from Lily and Audrey. After that, how good we can be will be dictated by how quickly our younger players learn and improve," Pedersen said.

Warren is led by juniors Alaina Goeden (all-NSC honorable mention) and Gracie Haupt, along with senior captain Kylee Wiltse. "We have many skilled players who enjoy the sport and several new players anxious to improve. This is a great combination for success. We are excited to see where the season takes us," Blue Devils coach Leigh Ann Mondrawickas said.

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And over in the Northern Lake County Conference, the days of the Grayslake Central and North co-op are over. Each school will field separate teams this season.

Vernon Hills is set up well in the Central Suburban North with the return of regional champion Lexi Schulman, now a junior, while sophomore Anna Lee took 10th at the regional as a ninth grader. Schulman, who averaged 74.4 for 18 last year and is one of the top players in the area, was second at a Class AA sectional and earned meet medalist honors in 17 of Vernon Hills' 19 dual meets dating back to freshman season.

Grayslake Central and coach Brett Kay return six Central players from the co-op team and will welcome 16 newcomers. Senior Alex McGowan is a four-year varsity starter, while seniors Ellie Schulz and Kiara Schmitt are in their second seasons as starters. "With the veteran leadership we have on our team, I am more than optimistic that we will compete to be within the top half of the conference standings in our inaugural season," Kay said.

Lakes finished second in the NLCC, qualified for sectionals, but graduated a pair of all-conference seniors. Coach Jennifer Schoon's lineup, however, is far from bereft of talent with senior Kailey Gara, and juniors McKenna Sosnowski and Gia Memenga back with varsity experience and improved games thanks to off-season work.

Grant returns five players with varsity experience, including 2020 team MVP Cara Pederson (All-NLCC after finishing ninth in tournament), three-year varsity golfer Audrey Mazur and two-year varsity performer Abbi Themanson.

Carmel, fifth in the East Suburban Catholic a year ago, returns conference medalists in sophomore Macaire Everett and senior Lauren Crow, along with sophomore Kate Roberts -- all three averaged in the high 40s for nine in 2020. "I am impressed with how the returning players have worked on their own to improve their game," Corsairs coach Arnie Anima said. "Our goal is to qualify for state."

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