Girls golf: Barrington, Stevenson advance to state; Rolling Meadows' March wins individual title
After a stellar regular season, Rolling Meadows' Jennifer March had a simple game plan for her hopes of winning a girls golf sectional in her freshman year.
"I knew I had to play solid - I didn't have to play great - but I wanted to play solid to try and get the victory," she said.
Well, March played great.
Her eye-popping 8-under 67 with an equally startling 9 birdies got her the championship of the Class 2A Buffalo Grove sectional held at the Buffalo Grove Golf Course on Monday.
The daughter of Mt. Prospect pro Gary March, who played a few years on the PGA Tour, edged Buffalo Grove sophomore Courtney Beerheide (career-high 8 birdies) and Glenbrook North sophomore Martha Kuwahara, who both came in with sizzling 68s followed by St. Viator junior Maggie Carlson (70), who also produced a career-best 8 birdies on the par-75 layout.
The top three teams to advance to Decatur's Hickory Point golf course on Friday and Saturday were Glenbrook North (287), Barrington (301) and Stevenson (303).
"This is the best sectional I have ever seen with the teams and individuals," said fifth-year Barrington coach Tim Martin, who has guided the Fillies to five straight state finals appearances (eight consecutive for the program). "We're thrilled to make it down. I thought 301 was a good number. This definitely felt like the state tournament today, the environment, the atmosphere, and the pressure. It was really great preparation for Decatur."
Leading the Fillies were freshman Reese Wallace (73), senior Sydney Terada (73), senior Brdget Butler (74) and senior Leah Gaidos (81).
"We had to produce and all credit to Sydney for getting us through," Martin said. "Reese had a great back nine. She's playing so well. Bridget Butler, one of the top players in the state, was 3-under par giving us three players under par. And Leah Gaidos just battled on the back nine and made some really big shots and putts. I could not be more proud of our four seniors (including Breanna Brown) all making state for the fourth time after winning four MSL titles and four regionals."
Stevenson is going to state for the seventh time in coach Emma Degen's 9 seasons.
"We really had to battle for that, " she said. "We got off to a little bit of a rough start with the front nine being a little harder than the back, so we were chasing the whole time."
Senior Allyson Duan led the Pats with a 75, followed by freshman Campbell Ray (76), senior Megan Lee (76) and sophomore Sophia Joeng (76).
"For Allyson to go from plus-4 (front nine) to minus-4, that's a huge comeback," Degen said. "Hats off to her and our other girls for sticking with it and keeping the grind going, They were working hard for every score.
"Great round for Campbell (Ray). She has really come in clutch the last few weeks. She is a real competitor and we knew that when she came in. We knew she could go low so we are looking forward to seeing what she can do in her first year downstate.
"Sophia just knows exactly what she has to do, It's one shot at a time for her and she is always looking ahead to 'How can I do this, and how can I do that?' She is very methodical and it ends up working out for her. And our senior, Megan, is amazing. We've needed her to come up big these last few weeks and she did it for us in the most crucial times. This course today played to her strengths and I'm glad it worked out for her today."
March's work on Monday was her best in high school or outside tournaments. Her 9 birdies were a career-best. She led by one stroke entering her final hole.
The freshman hit her tee shot into a penalty area but chipped out with a 4-iron from 168 yards onto the green and then two-putted for the par and sectional title.
"I made a lot of solid 5-footers for par or birdie," said March, who beat her previous best round of 5-under (Countryside in Mundelein). "I just rolled them in. I felt confident over every one of them."
"She really stayed in the present," said Meadows coach Kris Yoo, a former two-time state champion at Conant High School. "She came out ready to be aggressive and she just played her game."
Beerheide's game is on fire as well, She won the Mid-Suburban League crown and the regional. She was 18th at state last fall.
"I have a lot of momentum right now," said Beerheide, who converted birdies on four of the seven par 5s. "I am playing really steady golf right now and my confidence is high which helps. I have been hitting my driver really well."
"Courtney is peaking at the right time so we're excited to see how she does against the best girls in the state this weekend," said BG coach Jeff Grybash. "She grinds it off the tee and has a great short game. And against just a tremendous field. Jen is a heck of a player. Martha (eagle on her final hole) is a heck of a player."
Carlson's 5-under 70 included 8 birdies on Monday.
"She played solid golf," said St. Viator coach Jack Halpin. "No one hits the ball longer than she does. She is a special player and played a career round."
In addition to March, Beerheide and Carlson, other area players advancing to state as individuals were Fremd junior Keira Brazeau (77) and Vernon Hills senior Anna Lee (79).