Girls golf: Glenbrook North shines at Conant sectional
Three girls who have walked the halls of Glenbrook North High School for less than three months, and one less than 14, helped make history for the school's girls golf team at the Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club on Monday.
Freshmen Alexis Myers (76), Kacie Moon (80) and Kaylee Hwang (84) teamed up with sophomore Alina Chie (86) to post the four low scores for the Spartans and give them their first state appearance as a team in program history.
Glenbrook North's score of 326 was good enough to place third behind traditional powers New Trier (311) and Loyola (317)
"The future is bright," said Spartans nine-year coach Michael Schroeder. "We knew this was possible with some young players coming in and some veteran players who were able to give us scores throughout the season. I'm very happy for them. They worked hard all season and put themselves in this position."
Myers' 6-over par score gave her fifth place in the individual competition. New Trier junior Amy Beanblossom (74) took first place while Glenbrook South junior Effie Perakis (75) was tied for second with Whitney Young junior Meilin Oshino (75).
Perakis, who shot a 5-under 63 at Arlington Lakes as a freshman and went on to be 10th in the state, said her long game was the key to Monday's round.
"Most of my shots were straight," she said. "I was getting them on the green so I could make pars."
Glenbrook North's Myers sat out the regional due to being quarantined for COVID-19 after placing a second-place finish at the conference meet.
"We were hopeful she'd be back for this and it worked out," Schroeder said. "She gave us a great performance."
"It's pretty crazy," Myers said about the Spartans' youth and advancing to the Class 2A state tourney on Friday in Decatur. "We never really talked about (going to state). We (freshmen) really pushed each other while playing together in competitive summer tournaments. Next year should be really good, too, with two more girls coming in who shot in the low 70s. It's exciting."
Schroeder had heard things about the three freshmen coming in this fall.
"Then I saw them at tryouts (Willow Hill and Chevy Chase) and I knew first hand what great players they were," Schroeder said. "I could see right away these girls were the real deal and they worked tremendously hard all season."
Fremd coach Jeremy Malinowski, whose girls comprised the Vikings' first team to play in a sectional in 20 years, also have a bright future without a senior on the team, including three freshmen. The Vikes placed fourth (350) and were led by junior Sarah Sim (tied for seventh individually with a 77), followed by junior Maddie Park (88), freshman Keira Brazeau (91) and junior Grace Arrango (94).
"It feels amazing," Sim said of her first trip to state after being a sectional qualifier as a sophomore. "I'm truly honored to go to state. I just tried to keep my game the same as every other round I play."
"Wow, we knew getting to state was a goal for Sarah and for her to come through and do it, and with the pressure of leading this team all season, is impressive," Malinowski said. "We said coming into this we needed a 320 to compete with Glenbrook North. That meant Sarah going low and the rest of our girls following suit. with some low 80s. But we got caught with some tricky greens and I think we putted scared the rest of the day. So it was a battle.
"Unfortunately as a team we didn't get out. But as a team we finished fourth out of 15 and it's been a long time since we've been here as a team. I can't be more proud of these girls."
Brazeau provided one of the biggest cheers of the day when she used a sand wedge on the 92-yard 17th hole and produced a hole-in-one.
"It was a blind tee shot so she didn't see it go in," Malinowski said. "She knows she didn't play her best but she still shot a 91. For her, being so new to the program, I don't think she realizes how good that was (42 on the back nine after a 49) down the stretch."
The last Mid-Suburban League player to record a hole-in-one in a sectional was in 2017 by Buffalo Grove's Katie Fontanetta, who is now student teaching in Wisconsin.
"I couldn't see it," Brazeau said. "But the guy watching at the green told me it rolled in. He gave me a thumbs-up and started cheering. I didn't really think it was going in."
Other area players advancing to the state finals were Wheaton North's Bridget Craig (77), Prospect's Kate Riesing (80), Conant's Sadie Zorrilla (83) Hersey's Sydney Ohr (84) and Glenbrook North's Nicole McGuire (85).
Craig was a top 20 sectional finisher as a freshman.
"She had been on fire recently and did not have to struggle through any round but today she had to work for every stroke and her ability to recover saved her." said Falcons coach Karen Calabrese.
Riesing began with a double and triple bogey on the first two holes Monday.
"Those are tough holes out there and I said 'you just have to bounce back' and she did," said Prospect coach Brad Rathe. "She did great with a birdie and pars.
"She got to play in the regional and sectional as a sophomore. She had a little bit of a rough stretch in the middle of this season but has been playing well lately."
Unfortunately, Prospect's No. 1 golfer, senior Abby Knott, could not compete on Monday due to illness.
Zorrilla is making her first state appearance.
"She strikes the ball so solid every time, one of the best around at that," said Conant coach Megan Hebert. "It's just a matter of maintaining her emotions and feelings on the course. I know this was a big goal for her."
Ohr has been a four-year varsity player for Hersey coach Dan Vesper and as a sophomore became the Huskies' first sectional qualifier since 2016.
Lake Park coach Jeff Henrikson says Lorario has a lot of growth ahead.
"By far she is one of our top golfers," said Henrickson, whose team was making only its second sectional appearance since 1994. "She puts a lot of work in and has really bought into the game. We're excited to have her for two more years and excited to see what she can do for us."