Girls golf: Long time coming for regional champs from Fremd, Schaumburg
None of the team's current players were even born the last time Fremd won a girls golf regional and Schaumburg produced an individual champion.
But that's what developed at the Buffalo Grove Golf Club on Thursday, and Fremd is hoping its performance is the birth of even better things to come in the future.
Without a senior, coach Jeremy Malinowski's Vikings earned their first regional crown since 2002 and seventh overall with a junior and two freshmen leading the way, all tying for second in the individual race behind champion Emily Akers of Schaumburg.
Third-year varsity golfer Sarah Sim and ninth-graders Grace Lee and Keira Brazeau fired 82s for Fremd on the par 72 layout.
Vikings junior Shreya Mantena added an 86 to lift the Vikes to a 332 score in the Class 2A Hersey regional, easily finishing ahead of the tourney's other two state qualifying teams Schaumburg (365) and Conant (376). They will play in the Conant sectional at Bridges of Poplar Creek on Monday.
Sectional host Hersey was just two strokes back in fourth (378).
Akers was cooking on Thursday just like the chefs at Sal and Tony's Italian restaurant adjacent to the course's pro shop.
Her career-best score of 73 easily outdistanced the field by 9 strokes.
Other scores which helped Schaumburg produce its second team to qualify for a sectional in coach Michelle Hinojosa's 12 seasons were Araha Uday (92), Kirsten Lee (99) and Kirsten Lee (99) and Jessica Wise (101).
Akers played softball and golf until her sophomore year of high school when she settled on the latter.
She was pretty surprised by Thursday's performance.
"I can't even believe it," said Akers, who had 4 birdies. "I worked really hard. I played a lot of summer events and practiced almost every day. It was all worth it."
Akers said she had a lot of confidence going into the meet.
"I just wanted to have fun because it's my last season," said Akers, who plans to play college golf and study secondary education and mathematics. "I was scrambling the first couple of holes. My putting was really good today and it definitely saved me."
"Emily probably played a couple of hundred rounds of golf this summer," said Hinojosa, a former Conant volleyball standout. "She did not do softball these past two years and has really dedicated her time to golf and it really shows. Her composure on the course and putting today was phenomenal. She scrambled on her front nine (2-under 34) to really put down an awesome score.
"It's our highest finish in a regional since I've been here (Saxons had a third place) so this is wonderful."
Malinowski was feeling the same way.
"This is very rewarding," he said. "When you look at today, we were very prepared and this is the first time we'd been in a position like this based on the regional pairings. We were the favorite to win this and that's a weird place for the Vikings to be in."
So Malinowski and assistant Christine Vlaming were a little worried about a letdown.
"Our goal today was to get out of a regional," said Malinowski, who replaced his assistant as head coach three years ago after serving as her assistant. "We came in with a very strong leader with Sarah Sim, who looked human to start today going bogey, bogey, double to start. So I knew she had an uphill battle and she stuck with it. She's allowed to be human and it was really nice to see her fight. And then we end up having two freshmen also shooting an 82. Gloria shot her 18-hole low and Keira has been on fire and very steady. I don't know if they realize how good they are, how coachable they are, and how hard they work relative to their peers."
Malinowski hopes this success maintains a winning culture.
"To give them a championship now to add to that winning culture just fortifies what we have done," he said. " I can't think of anything more rewarding than a victory today."
Sim shot a career-best 76 last week in the Mid-Suburban League meet at Highland Woods in Hoffman Estates.
"I'm really proud of everyone," Sim said. "I think we worked really hard for this and I'm glad we got the results we really wanted."
Conant coach Megan Hebert got her Cougars to a sectional for the fifth time in six years, as junior Sadie Zorrilla led the way with her 86 followed by sophomore Ariel Morrison (91), senior Sarah Carr (98) and junior Lauren Russell (101).
"The key was that we had to have four scores, every single stroke counted," Hebert said. "We were tied with a lot of teams for the second-through- fourth places until the No. 1s came in. So the No. 1 really made the difference but it mattered that the second, third and fourth-place girls were right there competing. Sadie came up big for us but it was also that we had a solid backing behind her."
Players outside of the sectional qualifying teams to crack the top 10 were Zorrilla (tied for 5th with an 86) and Hersey's Sydney Ohr (7th with an 88). They were followed by Hersey's Ava Johnsen, Palatine's Mayhek Acharya, Buffalo Grove's Eva Ruterschmidt and Morrison, who all shot 91 to tie for eighth.
The other individuals to advance (not on a qualifying team) included Hoffman Estates' Sophia Steele (92), Wheeling's JoJo Stepek (93), Rolling Meadows' Margaret Lennon (93), Hoffman Estates' Ryan Cloherty (94), Rolling Meadows' Lauren Schiele (94) and Buffalo Grove's Chloe Wintergerst (94).