Girls golf: Neuqua Valley's Zheng takes regional title in playoff
Mia Natividad fell just short of winning Thursday's Class 2A Oswego East girls golf regional at Fox Bend Golf Course in Oswego -- but the Yorkville junior was still quite pleased with her performance, which earned her a trip to next week's sectional.
"To me winning is just like an extra thing," Natividad said. "I just care about my score and how I performed today so I was content with how I played today. It didn't really matter to me if I won or lost on the playoff because I'm still going to sectional, I'm going to give myself a chance at state and everything."
Neuqua Valley senior Sarah Zheng didn't anticipate playing in a playoff and had been sitting around for 90 to 100 minutes prior to Natividad finishing her round. Neither seemed to impact her as Zheng won the playoff after both players fired rounds of 78.
"I didn't know there was going to be a playoff," Zheng said. "I kind of like the pressure and I know a lot of people don't. I kind of enjoyed it. It's kind of thrilling and it's the second playoff I've ever been in so it was a lot of fun."
The Wildcats claimed the regional championship with a team score of 343.
"I think today was definitely harder than last year," Zheng said. "There were some really tough pin positions that I think affected everyone. So putting was a big thing for all the girls, especially our team. We kind of struggled with that, but overall I was happy with how I finished."
Metea Valley also earned a spot in next Monday's Hinsdale South sectional at Village Greens of Woodridge with a team scores of 357.
Junior Abby Terada led the Mustangs with an 81 while sophomores Prank Kakkar and Meadow Rolence added an 85 and 95, respectively. Terada tied for third overall with Plainfield North senior Makayla Mussatto.
Oswego Co-op sophomore Shyell Lowe tied for fifth place with an 82.
While a cold had Lowe sleeping a lot more than practicing recently, she showed no ill signs, closing with a 39 on the back nine.
"I had a really fun round and I was really proud of my score today," Lowe said. "I just came back from a cold so I didn't have much time -- I was sleeping a lot. I think my chipping and putting continue to be a lot better because I practiced a lot this summer on it and it's a key reason I've been shooting lower scores."
Oswego Co-op's 368 was good enough to earn the team a trip to the sectional, a well earned reward after last year's postseason was limited.
"Having Katelin (Hong) and Shyell (Lowe) as freshmen experience postseason play last year has helped out this year," Oswego Co-op coach Brian Chandler said. "They have been our anchors all season and we go how they go. Today with Shyell coming in with that 39 on the back, that was a great finish."
Hong carded an 87 while seniors Eryn Monn and Graice Vlach contributed a 99 and 100, respectively.
"They set goals yesterday and they went out there and did that today so I was really excited for them," Chandler said. "And I know we have a couple seniors on the team who were able to take the team to a sectional two years ago and wanted that one last opportunity as well so I'm excited for them."
Natividad never would've even been in the position to potentially win the regional if not for her ability to turn things around after firing a 41 on the front nine.
"I had a nervous swing on the first hole that kind of put me out of position on a par 5 and a few three putts with pins in tough positions today where I couldn't get close enough to make those putts," Natividad said. "But it started to kind of come around on the back nine. I was hitting it good the whole day basically and I didn't have any three putts on the back nine and I hit all but one green on the back so that was kind of an advantage there."
Yorkville junior Laine Leonard also qualified for sectional play with a 91.
West Aurora took fourth with a 378 and had three sectional qualifiers, including sophomore Grace Lawless who had a 91 and seniors Emma Lawless and Toni Powers who each had a 95.
Waubonsie Valley junior Lilly Riley had an 84 and sophomore Kelly Cong had an 88 for the Warriors while Naperville Central senior Haley Hayes qualified for the sectional with an 86.