Crystal Lake Central girls golfers win sectional
ROCKFORD – The Crystal Lake Central co-op girls golf team had to rebound after a tough front nine in order to win its ninth and most important tournament of the season.
The Tigers won Monday’s Class AA Guilford Sectional at Ingersoll with a 328, seven strokes higher than last week’s regional win. But they were four strokes better than Naperville North (332) and seven better than St. Charles North. All three teams advance to Friday and Saturday’s state tournament at Hickory Point in Decatur.
Though the Tigers have yet to lose this season, their state hopes were in question as most of their golfers posted scores in the mid-40s after nine holes.
Tigers coach Kathy Speaker was tasked with being an observer during the round, so she didn’t get to watch her golfers. When she made the turn with her group, she got her first glimpse at the scores and started to worry.
“After the front nine, it was a little shaky, especially with some 45s,” Speaker said. “I was hoping we would play better on the back nine.”
She had her daughter text her throughout the day to keep her updated and was adding scores in her head. When some teams had completed rounds in the 330s, Speaker knew she needed low scores from her No. 1 and No. 2 golfers.
Larisa Luloff came through with an 80, and Lexi Harkins posted a 3-over-par 75, good for third overall. Waubonsie Valley golfer Bing Singhsumalee earned medalist honors with a 73. When Speaker saw the scores, she began to cry, and the team jumped around, cheering the victory.
“I thought it was going to be really close coming in,” Harkins said. “It means a lot for us.”
Harkins didn’t play with the Tigers last season as she opted to play in various amateur events, but the team made it to state. This season, with Harkins back for her senior year, the Tigers depended on her for a strong round.
When it became apparent that the Tigers would edge out a first-place finish, it also became apparent there would be a playoff for the last spot at the state meet.
Prairie Ridge senior Brooke Johnson, who was the only Wolves golfer to advance to the sectional. Her 84 tied with two others, and she lost her first career playoff after two holes, but smiled throughout, enjoying her last high school meet.
“I just came to sectionals happy I made it this far,” she said. “I tried to keep my head straight and do the best I could. It was stressful and I wasn’t going to let that get to me. I just wanted to have fun; I came here to have fun.”
Huntley placed 12th with a 402 in the 12-team field. But coach Ann Christiansen was pleased with the sectional appearance in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
“We felt it was an accomplishment making it this far and we just told them to go out and treat it like a practice round and have fun,” Christiansen said. “We had a great season.”