Maine South going to state for first time
10/8/12 Loyola's Nicole Wetoska hits her tee shot on the 3rd hole at the IHSA Sectional girls golf at Bonnie Brook Golf Course in Waukegan on Monday. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 9, 2012 11:04AM
WAUKEGAN — Brittany Lung of Maine South staged one of the better comebacks of the IHSA sectional.
After finishing 9-over on the front nine Monday, she came back to finish 3-over on the back nine. Her 84 was vital toward propelling the Maine South girls golf team into the state tournament for the first time.
“It was nervewracking to just wait for scores to come in,” said Lung, a junior. “We were trying to do the math, like to see what we needed to come in.”
Afterward, Lung professed relief that her team edged its way onwards with a third-place finish.
“We’re just happy we made it,” Lung said. “I’m just really happy. This was our team goal, to make it to state, and we did it.”
The Class 2A state tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur.
Coach Jeff Hamann also pointed to sophomore Annie Krall’s pivotal 7-over 43 on the back nine at Bonnie Brook Golf Course. While Krall’s finishing score of 19-over 91 didn’t stand out, it was crucial as she finished five strokes ahead of teammate Katie Krall, whose score thus wasn’t counted toward the team’s total. Only the top four finishers counted toward their team’s score. That five-stroke difference between the Kralls accounted for Maine South’s margin of victory over fourth-place Highland Park. Maine South posted a 341 and Highland Park finished with a 346.
Hamann said he wasn’t surprised by his team’s success. Maine South qualified for the IHSA sectional last season and returned all four of its leading scorers from last year’s sectional team.
“Did I see it coming? Yeah, I really did believe that today if we played well, we’d be right there,” Hamann said. “I did see it coming, I guess you could say.”
He was thrilled with the final result, however. He spent much of Monday’s afterglow texting former players, who he said were pleased to hear the good news.
“We would not have done this without them, because we get a little bit better every year. We continue to raise the bar,” Hamann said. “Today is obviously the best day that we’ve ever had as a program, but without them, we would not have accomplished what we did today.”
Trying day for Miller: Stevenson’s Stephanie Miller placed second at the IHSA sectional Monday with a 75 and advanced to state, but she was far from happy with her performance. In particular, the senior questioned her decision making.
“I’m really not (satisfied) because I made a lot of just not very good decisions,” Miller said. “I left a lot of shots short. A couple of chips didn’t make it to the green, so I had to chip twice, so, OK, good try, try again. Putting wasn’t the greatest. It was really hard to figure out the speed of the greens because they were so fast today.”
The difficulties continued even after she had completed 18 holes. At the end of Monday’s play as Miller reported her score, there was a little confusion as she asked to hold onto the bottom half of her scorecard. She was eventually allowed to and she explained afterward that looking over her statistics, including how many times she putted and how many greens she hit, helps her figure out what she most needs to work on.
“At the beginning, they told us that we couldn’t write putts or anything on it, but I thought, ‘Oh well, I’m going to do it.’ I always do it. It’s nothing new. Everyone knows I rip my scorecard in half, because I want my half,” Miller said. “I just like to keep all my stats, how many putts, how many greens in regulation, how many fairways I’ve hit. That’s basically it, just to see what needs improvement.”
Trevians rely on depth: Senior Ellie McGuire pointed to New Trier’s impressive depth as a key reason why the team was able to advance to the state finals. New Trier finished second at the sectional with a 334. She stated that on a given day, any of New Trier’s starting six could place, reducing the pressure on any individual golfer.
“It’s really good to be on a team where the number six girl can come in with a score. It takes the pressure off while you’re on the course, because you never know who’s going to come in.” said McGuire, who carded an 82. “It takes the pressure off and just feels good to be on a team where everyone contributes.”
Indeed, only first-place Prospect (329) could boast of the kind of depth New Trier had. Even New Trier’s highest finisher, Lexi Salberg, posted a 95. That was the second-best score by a team’s highest finisher in the sectional.
Denenberg demonstrates progress: In particular, McGuire noted the improvement shown by Nerissa Denenberg, who led the team with a 3-over 39 on the front nine. The senior managed to place in New Trier’s top four, despite a rough 11-over on the back nine to finish with an 86.
“Nerissa Denenberg has completely turned her game around and practiced hard, and her scores have been showing it,” McGuire said. “If you look at where she was freshman year to now, it’s pretty incredible how, freshman year, she wasn’t on varsity, and she would get on a big course and get kind of scared of it, and now, she goes out there and does so well on it.”
Wind could be issue: With blustery conditions prevailing in Waukegan, players were at an onus to mantain control and to keep holes from spiraling out of their control.
“Keep the bad shots just bad, not horrible,” Miller said. “Don’t hit a horrible shot, just a bad shot.”
According to McGuire, the wind made players think extra hard.
“Today was hard because the conditions are definitely tough with the wind,” McGuire said. “It affects what clubs you’re going to hit. You never really know. The wind might be blowing really hard when you’re choosing a club, but then, five seconds later when you’re hitting, it might not be.”
Wind could be a factor in the IHSA state finals as 15 mph winds are expected in Decatur on Saturday. Winds of 17 mph wreaked havoc in Waukegan on Monday.
Individual qualifiers: Lake Forest freshman Emily Young finished fourth overall with an 8-over 80 and is going to state as an individual. Other area golfers to advance included Loyola junior Isabelle Kane (81) and Highland Park sophomore Kelli Ono (81). Buffalo Grove’s Grace Kil and Glenbrook North’s Ashley Hong each qualified with an 11-over 83. Stevenson’s Nicole Marquardt was eliminated in the playoff, while Libertyville’s Camilla Ou and Barrington’s Heather Ciskowski each missed out on the playoff by a single stroke.
Highland Park and Loyola, finished six and seven strokes out of the running, respectively. Lake Forest finished in sixth, just nine shots behind third-place Maine South, while Buffalo Grove and Mundelein finished back-to-back at eighth and ninth, respectively. Libertyville avoided the cellar by 31 shots, finishing well ahead of last-place Elk Grove. ~.