Girls golf: Fremd, Barrington claim regional titles
It's been a while since Fremd has hosted a girls golf regional.
On Thursday afternoon on the par-72 Palatine Hills Golf Course, coach Jeremy Malinowski's Vikings sure made the most of the opportunity.
Not only did Fremd win its second straight Class 2A regional after going 18 years without one, two of its players were showcased in a playoff for the individual crown.
Senior Sarah Sim outlasted sophomore teammate and friend Keira Brazeau by parring the third playoff hole (No. 1 on the course after two ties on the 18th) to win her first regional crown in a three-year varsity career.
"It was definitely hard going against your teammate," Sim said. "I knew I had to just stay focused on trying to play the best I could. It's awesome to have our whole team going to the sectional again. We've worked really hard this season and I'm really proud of everyone."
"It was fun and exciting," Brazeau said. "We're good friends and I think we both did really well. I never dreamed this would happen."
The Vikings (323) won the meet over Conant (345) and Prospect (346). Those three schools advance to Monday's Glenbrook North sectional at Heritage Oaks in Northbrook.
"It was unbelievable," said Malinowski, now in his fourth year as head coach. "It's the first time I've seen two girls from the same school in a playoff for the championship. And when you're the host school and it's your two players, it is rewarding and also agonizing."
Sim and Brazeau each shot 77s to get to the playoff. The other top five medalists were Conant senior Sadie Zorilla (80), Conant senior Lauren Russell (83) and Prospect senior Kate Riesing (83).
Brazeau put a 35-yard wedge shot to within six feet on the first playoff while Simon's 24-foot putt got to within three feet on the par 4 hole.
Sim dramatically forced a third playoff hole when she sank a 13-foot putt. Sim won the final hole, thanks to getting a 25-foot putt to within two feet for her winning par putt.
"It was beautiful," Malinowski said of the ending. "We had a senior (Sim) capping off a tremendous career of growth and a sophomore who is discovering how good she really is. Keira is really a complete player who I think today proved that."
A couple of other young Vikes proved they can be future forces. Freshman Merritt Bell had an 84 followed by sophomore Gloria Lee (85).
Seniors Grace Arango (95) and Shreya Mantena (98) completed the top six.
"What I like about our seniors is that we're talking about homegrown. When you start on the junior varsity and work your way it means they chose to commit themselves to golf and it's showing now. I thought a great way to celebrate those seniors was to put in to host a regional, our first in many years, to see what home-course advantage really is and it looks like it really paid off today.
"I think the Vikings are now consistently on the map. Three of our top six players are graduating so we need the three below them to kind of move up in ranks now and we hope to get some young talent to come up and compete for years to come. We're excited for Monday. Our goal for this year was to win this regional and we have the extra benefit of having another to get downstate."
Under coach Megan Hebert, Conant has won four regionals and this is its first runner-up plaque.
"We're excited," said Hebert, who also counted the scores of Gabbi Zyung (89) and Ariel Morrison (93). "Lauren (Russell) has been our No. 6 all season and she beat her career best by 8 strokes."
Russell's previous best score was 92.
"I'm just thrilled for her," Herbert added. "This is her first time under 90 and she goes to 83. She worked hard all summer. She's been struggling this season and really hasn't had that breakthrough round. Hopefully this is it. I'm really proud of her. I credit my assistant coach who was out there with her all day and had a good camaraderie going with her."
Prospect is headed to a sectional under coach Brad Rathe for the fourth straight time.
The Knights were led by Riesing, senior Taylor Knott (85), senior Maia Johnson (88) and junior Emily Torok (90).
"We had a bad start," Rathe said. "Our first six holes were not great but we battled and turned it around. I just told them we are trying to get out as a team. It's weird with golf. It's an individual sport but at playoff time, it's a team sport, too. At the end of the day, you just want to advance with your teammates. It's great and now we'll feed into the sectional with New Trier, Loyola and Glenbrook North. We've got to have a great day but we go into it as a team with not much to lose. There's not a lot of pressure on us. We'll just go out and see what kind of number we can put up."
Other advancing individuals were Hersey's Ava Johnsen (85), Wheeling's Sarah Huh (86), Hersey's Juklia Chudzinski (88), Maine West's Sofia Cupuro (89), Hoffman Estates' Erin Lim (94), Rolling Meadows' Natalie Von Oesen (97), Wheeling's Sofia Constantini (97), Schaumburg's Margad Baasansuren (98), Hersey's Kyra Hutchison (99) and Schaumburg's Stephanie Zahareas (100).
Constantini shot her season-low to join teammate Huh in the sectional for Wheeling coach Peggy Ellsworth.
Hersey had three sectional qualifiers in 2013 and 2016 under ninth-year coach Dan Vesper.
"Ava (junior) and Julia (senior) had season averages that put them in the mix before the round started," Vesper said. "But Kyra (senior) played her best varsity tournament of her career (100) to sneak in under the radar. It was awesome."
Hersey (378) placed fourth followed by Schaumburg (402), Rolling Meadows (416), Hoffman Estates (430) and Maine West (452).
Class 2A South Elgin regional:
Bridget Butler's mental approach -- and results on the golf course -- can speak for themselves.
Butler, the Barrington junior, turned in a 3-under par 69 for the second consecutive season at the Class 2A South Elgin regional on Thursday.
Only this year, it earned Butler medalist honors, followed by a 76 from last year's regional medalist, Leah Gaidos.
"Every day, I'm just trying to get 1% better," Butler said. "Obviously, [in] golf, you have so many ups and downs all the time, but you just try and utilize the good days."
"[Butler] is so good. She hits the ball so long. She has all the shots," Barrington coach Tim Martin said. "We've known that scores like this are coming; even in the next week, she's just been building toward this. We're not surprised to see 3-under, but she's worked so hard on her game. She is uber-talented, and a college is going to get a really good golfer in her after next year.
"We're so proud of her."
Butler and Gaidos' friendship comes first, but also adds a unique competitive flare that has withstood time since both began starting on Barrington varsity golf as freshmen.
"We have a really good team atmosphere. Just being able to lift each other up and be happy for each other when the other person succeeds, that's part of why I like this team so much," Gaidos said. "I'm just really happy for Bridget since she played amazing out there today. She played the same score as last year, which is amazing."
Five of Barrington's six competitors finished in the top individual scores: Praise Shim (77), Simran Singh (78) and Sydney Terada (78) along with Butler and Gaidos. Kaitlyn Thomas (82) tied with St. Charles East senior Emily Charles, who will be joined by Saints teammate Olivia Vosburgh at next Monday's Huntley sectional as individuals.
Barrington (300) bested second-place South Elgin (366) and St. Charles North (371) as the three full teams advancing. Thursday was the Red Raiders' ninth consecutive regional title.
Gaidos, who sank four consecutive birdies on the back nine last season to win her medalist honor, again affirmed to Martin "she's one of the best players in the state, absolutely."
"[Gaidos has] really been showing that; just so proud of those two ..." Martin said. "For Praise Shim, the sophomore for us, to come up and take third alone with a 77, that's her low round of the year, but we've seen it. She's been getting better and better the entire season."
Barrington, the reigning Class 2A state team champion, is reloaded again for what projects to be another return to the podium.
"Simran won the [Mid-Suburban League]. She's going to Long Island University, and she's playing great. Sydney's game is in great shape," Martin continued. "Kaitlyn Thomas, she's probably our most improved player, and she's right there. She's in the top 10 today, so across the board, I just couldn't be more proud of them."
-- Jake Bartelson