Crystal Lake Central co-op's Molly Lyne has faced high expectations since her freshman year. Now entering her final season, the Cary-Grove senior has a pretty good idea of how to handle the pressure.
"It's more of a motivator than pressure," said Lyne, a three-time Class 3A state qualifier and two-time Northwest Herald Girls Golfer of the Year. "It makes you want to work that much harder for it, and you want to keep that good feeling going."
Lyne, who has made the state trip to Red Tail Run in Decatur three times – taking third as a freshman, 12th as a sophomore and 15th as a junior – and the Tigers will look to keep their impressive streaks going.
Central co-op, which combines with C-G and Crystal Lake South, enters as the defending Fox Valley Conference champion for the sixth straight season. The Tigers also claimed their ninth straight McHenry County Tournament title.
Central co-op placed second at regionals last year to advance to sectionals as a team for the ninth year in a row. The Tigers, who finished fifth at sectionals, last qualified for state in 2013.
Two years ago, Central co-op won the FVC Tournament by 40 shots and county by 36. Things were much closer last season.
Jacobs finished eight shots behind Central co-op at the FVC Tournament and returns its top two golfers in seniors Lauren Kempf and Roslyn Leitner. And Huntley, which brings back its No. 1 golfer in Katie Matustik, finished 11 shots behind Central at the McHenry County Tournament.
Lyne, who committed to Louisville after her junior season, sees the competition as a good thing.
"It gets us all pumped up and makes us more competitive with each other," said Lyne, who won the FVC Tournament individual championship for the second straight season, shooting an even-par 72. "That's a streak we all want to continue."
Lyne had a busy summer, playing in more than a dozen tournaments, including events in the American Junior Golf Association, Illinois Junior Golf Association and the Mid-American Junior Golf Tour.
Lyne won two MAJGT tournaments and qualified and played in the Academy Junior World Golf Championships in July at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, against some of the top junior golfers from around the world.
"I started off really well this summer," Lyne said. "From May to mid-July, everything was working. I was playing lights out. Around mid-July, I think I got a little tired, and my putting started to suffer, but it’s all starting to come back now, and I can't wait for the season to start."
Central co-op coach Kyle McCaughn, going into his fifth season, has had Lyne for all four years.
"She spends so much time on this game, and it means so much to her," McCaughn said. "I just expect her to be that solid leader for us, be a great scorer and go a long way. She's very respected around conference, and for good reason. She's a great golfer ,and a great kid."
Renata Petersen, a junior at Crystal Lake Central, will play in the No. 2 spot after the Tigers graduated state qualifier Kat Bevill. Petersen is working hard to get to state for the first time.
Petersen earned Girls Senior Player of the Year this summer in the McHenry County Junior Golf Association and played in the IJGA Player of the Year Championship, finishing fourth in the final standings.
Petersen is excited for a new challenge.
"It’s definitely a little more pressure," Petersen said of moving up to the No. 2 position this year. "Kat is irreplaceable. She is one of the funniest and most caring people I’ve ever met. She was like the glue to the team. No one can replace Kat."
Petersen said Central has big goals again, including winning conference, but that alone won't determine the overall success of the Tigers' season.
"Winning is fun, but being with the team is better," Petersen said. "As long as we’re having fun out there, and we’re sticking together as a team, it doesn’t matter how we do. It’s kind of like a cherry on top if we win."