Chart toppers: Top area girls' golf teams, courtesy Fred Kroner
Lexi Hornsby is the lone senior in a lineup that includes juniors Maddie Birckbichler and Emily Trolia. “Emily, Maddie and Lexi have led the team through the early part of the season,” M-S coach Matt Mills said. “A different girl seems to step up to contribute each match or tournament. It seems like each of them have had at least one solid week during the season.” The sophomores playing regularly are Keegan Gagne, Jessi Haines and Cydney Mitchaner. Gagne has cut several strokes off her final 2012 nine-hole average. “This team has the potential to rank up there with our recent successful seasons,” Mills said. “We have the key pieces, and we will continue to work on becoming more consistent.” Team highlights include a first-place finish in the Blue Ridge Invitational (in which Trolia was the runner-up with a 78) and a second-place finish at the Brookhill Invitational (in which Birckbichler placed sixth with an 83).
Less than a month into the season, the Sages have shattered numerous school records. They knocked 12 shots off their best composite nine-hole round (now 186) and lowered the 18-hole team score by 44 shots (now 375). Area leader Evelyn Brand (who has a nine-hole average of 39.0) lowered her own nine-hole record (now 35) and 18-hole (now 74) individual school marks. Freshman Kendyl McFarland — whose father Chad is helping head coach Chris Townsend — has moved into the lineup as a consistent No. 2 player. “She has the potential to do great things in the upcoming years,” Townsend said. McFarland shot 39 at the Brookhill Shootout. Senior Madeline Diniz and junior Andrea Easton are other veterans who’ve lowered their nine-hole scores. Senior Claire Huisinga, a first-year player, has the team’s third-best average through 12 rounds. Freshman Lea Wilson is also in the top six. Five of the nine squad members are freshmen.
St. Thomas More
The Sabers’ six-player roster includes three seniors and three freshmen. Senior Caroline Dodds has been the team’s medalist — or co-medalist — in every meet. After running cross-country in previous years, Dodds is focusing on golf and has cut nearly 6 strokes off her final 2012 nine-hole average. Taylor During and Sami Floyd are the other seniors. Floyd is legally blind and coach Pat Hettermann said, “She has to work twice as hard as anyone else as she cannot even see where the green is from the tee. She has to depend on verbal directions and does pretty well.” The freshmen are Ashley Greene, Emily Roth and Shelby Turner. The area’s top three programs are virtually interchangeable. One of the Sabers’ wins was by 10 shots against M-S. Though half of her team is inexperienced, Hettermann said, “Their desire to do well is hard to beat.”
The Chargers’ eight-player roster includes one senior (Katie Brown) and no freshmen. “I consider us a very young team when it comes to experience, but we are capable of playing solid golf at times,” coach Darren Tee said. Juniors Katie Sullivan and Grace Khachaturian are joined in the top six by three sophomores, Lindsey Wisniewski, Baley Roley and Payton Archer. Khachaturian is juggling golf with her lead role in “Alice in Wonderland,” but she will be full time with golf by tournament time. “Despite our inexperience and not having a dominating player, we will have a legitimate shot of winning a conference title and possibly advancing from our regional as a team,” Tee said. The Big 12 meet and the Class 2A regional meet will be at the UI Blue Course in Savoy.
Coach Mark Edmundson’s team has five girls playing golf this season, and their nine-hole averages are less than 2 strokes apart. Sophomore Abbie Lewis leads the way at 52.1. Junior Annie Crumbaugh checks in at 54.0. “We are amazingly similar and consistent,” Edmundson said. “They all have experience, and all their games are about the same in terms of length and the short game.” Junior Jess Wohlwend, sophomore Courtney Monier and senior Kailyn Morrell are the other squad members. “With five solid scores, it takes the pressure off each of them,” Edmundson said. LeRoy has won six of its first seven matches, taking fourth in the Normal U-High Invitational, an event in which it was the smallest school. “Our team goal is to advance to sectional and improve upon our seventh-place finish from last year,” Edmundson said.
The rest of The News-Gazette Area Top 10: 6. Blue Ridge; 7. Champaign Central; 8. Tuscola; 9. Iroquois West; 10. Watseka.
Near misses: Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley; Prairie Central