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Craig is counting blessings

Ryan Craig feels very fortunate.

Fortunate to still be playing high school golf on the season’s final weekend. Fortunate to have played some of his best golf in his senior season. Fortunate that the ACL he tore at the end of basketball season in March was his left and not his right.

As a right-handed swinger, the Huntley senior’s back (right) leg rotates more in the swing than the left. Craig has made it through the golf season with minimal problems and will have surgery to repair his left knee Nov. 7.

Craig fired a 1-under-par 70 in gusting winds Monday to win the IHSA Class 3A Barrington Sectional at Makray Memorial. He won the tournament by three strokes and will play in the Class 3A state tournament Friday and Saturday at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington. Cary-Grove’s Jarrett Kinney and Jacobs’ Sean Kozak are the other two area players in the Class 3A tournament.

Harvard’s Jeremy Coffman and Hampshire’s Geoff Beck will compete in the Class 2A state tournament at Weibring Golf Club on the Illinois State University campus.

“I had the option of getting it fixed and playing basketball or not getting it fixed and playing golf,” Craig said. “It was an easy decision because I’ll probably play golf in college.”

Craig, a 6-foot-3 forward, will be missed by the Red Raiders’ basketball team. Already, Huntley will be without 6-6 star forward Amanze Egekeze, who recently had surgery for tendinitis in his right knee and will be out until at least Christmas.

Craig played baseball and basketball while growing up and got a late start on golf, even though his father, John, is the head professional at Crystal Woods and the Craigs live right by the course. He was a fast learner and has turned himself into an NCAA Division I prospect, although he doesn’t have a school yet.

“It was mid to late summer when I really started to turn it on,” Craig said. “A lot of schools were done recruiting by then. I know I can play D-I. I’ll just focus on having a great two rounds downstate.”

It’s a team thing: Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge both qualified for the Class AA Girls Golf State Tournament at Hickory Point in Forsyth from Monday’s Burlington Central Sectional.

Central, which co-ops with Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake South, won the sectional at 340; Prairie Ridge was third at 351.

Larisa Luloff (82) and Bailey Bostler (83) led the way for Central. Emily Jean, Ann Bandolik, Brianna DiGrazia and Alex Siavelis are the other members of the team.

Delainey Peterson shot 77 to finish third and led the Wolves. Peterson, Robin Manarik, Danielle Roulo and Michelle Nalepa are the four seniors who have been integral in the program for most of their high school years. Brooke Johnson and Erin Wing are the other two members. Prairie Ridge won the Fox Valley Conference Meet and the Crystal Lake Central Regional.

Postseason starts: Area cross country teams will run in their respective conference meets Saturday, starting the month-long postseason for that sport.

The FVC Meet will be at Woodstock’s Emricson Park, starting at 10 a.m. with the girls race. Crystal Lake Central and Jacobs will battle it out for the top spot there, and defending Class 2A state champion Sami Staples, from Central, will be the individual favorite.

Central’s boys also will be a favorite and might be challenged by Jacobs. Central’s Alex Baker has been the area’s best boys runner and will be the individual favorite.

The Big Northern Conference Meet will start with the girls race at 10 a.m. at Centennial Park in Rock Falls. Marengo will be favored to take its third consecutive title, led by Katie Adams, who has not lost a race this season.

Richmond-Burton’s boys will be looking to repeat and could be pushed by Winnebago. R-B is ranked No. 3 in Class 1A by the website Illinois Prep Harrier.

The Suburban Christian Conference Meet will be run at Marmion in Aurora starting with the girls race at 9 a.m.

• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at joestevenson@shawmedia.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.

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