Girls golf: Hinsdale Central extends regional streak to 15
Sarah Thornton has high standards.
The Hinsdale Central junior extended her personal postseason streak of individual championships to three with a level-par 70 Thursday afternoon in Glendale Heights.
But Thornton was not necessarily pleased with her play.
"I really wasn't playing that well," Thornton said. "I was just making a lot of putts."
Thornton suffered back-to-back bogeys on her inward nine at the Class 2A Glenbard East girls golf regional at Glendale Lakes but compensated with a birdie on each side to turn back a determined effort from her sensational freshman teammate Elyssa Abdullah.
When Libby Larson and Caroline Owens signed for a 78 and 79, respectively, the Red Devils added the combined 1-over 141 their top-two players authored for yet another convincing playoff championship.
In breaking the magical 300 barrier by two shots, the Devils not only eased past runner-up Downers Grove North (325) and third-place Benet (336) but also extended their consecutive regional-title streak to an astonishing 15 in succession.
"I wasn't really thinking about it," Thornton said of her defense of both the regional and sectional titles as a sophomore last season in the no-state-finals campaign. "I was thinking no-pressure. I guess it worked. I took driver out of the bag today. I figured I was better off using my brain to get myself across the course."
Abdullah had birdies on three of her final eight holes to compensate for an uncharacteristic slow start in crafting her 1-over 71.
"I was thinking that this wasn't really me," said Abdullah, who has eclipsed 70 in four tournament rounds this season. "'This isn't how I play; this isn't my true game.' I got motivated to play my own game and do my best to recover."
"(Abdullah) adds a lot of good stuff to the team, a lot of personality and talent," Thornton said.
Downers North advanced to the Hinsdale South sectional on Monday for the first time in five years as seniors Jessica Cagney and Ruby Bartkowiak fired fourth-place-tying rounds of 78.
"This is one of my best rounds," Cagney said. "To have that support, to have that unitedness with the six of us (at Hinsdale South) makes (the sectional) that much less stressful."
Audrey Wake is another young hot shot from Hinsdale as the Benet freshman strolled home in a confident manner to lead the Redwings with a third-place 75.
"It's different playing high school golf because you have a team," Wake said. "That's a really nice aspect. For the most part I stayed with my routine and focused on the process."
It was the end of a prosperous era for Naperville North, which had its five-year run of consecutive state appearances come to a close with its fourth-place showing (345).
"We didn't play as well as we usually play," Naperville North coach Greta Williams said. "Some of the girls left some shots out there. Even though we're not going as a team, this is the second-best thing."
Williams was referring to the Huskies' Ashlyn Bhatia stitching together the lowest score -- an 80 -- among the 10 at-large qualifiers.
Jaidyn Lodens (85) and Eshani Ragam (89) will join Bhatia; the Huskies' Annie Wittwer survived a 4-for-1 playoff for the final at-large bid as the cut came at 91.
Dana Euske, a senior who will make a third sectional appearance, and junior Zaida Apichai will play on their home course, Village Greens of Woodridge, Monday for fifth-place Hinsdale South (365).
"My game felt on-point today," Euske said. "My drives and putts were pretty much there. This has been my best regional-qualifying score so far."
Wheaton Warrenville South (378) had a single qualifier in Grace Cavin; Downers South (379) doubled that number with Jacqueline Kuczkowski and Katherine Olson; former Willowbrook state participant Emma Rattone (84) is the sole standard-bearer for the Warriors (391).
Glenbard South and Glenbard East had their seasons come to a close.