Kaneland junior Tori Guyton faced long lulls between each of her competitive rounds this season. As an individual representing a school without a full girls team, she entered tournaments at a sporadically-scheduled pace.
Guyton's mental game admittedly sputtered early, but re-adjusting to the non-team format after playing the 2012 regular season alongside the Kaneland boys eventually provided a spark.
Entering today's Class AA Burlington Central Sectional at Sycamore Golf Club, Guyton feels about as collected as she has all season.
"Right before tryouts this year, I was freaking myself out and worried I was not going to be playing with the boys," she said. "I went through a two-week slump and had about zero confidence, but I've picked myself up and been practicing about as hard as I can."
Guyton and classmate Julia VanGemert – both all-Northern Illinois Big 12 honorees last week – split practices between Hughes Creek in Elburn and Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, where Guyton's father, John, is head pro.
Guyton, the NI Big 12 medalist, and VanGemert have been friends since seventh grade, a familiarity not unlike the underlying focus of most practice rounds.
"Just short game, short game, short game," Guyton said.
Knights coach Mark Meyer, who splits attending Guyton and VanGemert's tournaments with assistant Ken Naehring based on the boys' schedule, calls the duo "a two-person team" that has made the best out of their situation.
"They hang a lot together. They play a lot together. They're both talented golfers," Meyer said.
Reinvigorated to compete and hopeful to advance to Monday's Rockford Guilford Sectional and beyond, Guyton is primed to turn in her best finish to date.
The younger sister of former Kaneland standout Haley Guyton, now at Illinois State, Guyton was a sectional qualifier in 2012.
"It has been truly a blessing because I have improved so much from the beginning of the season to now than I have the last two years," Guyton said.
Kurosky's 'quiet confidence'
Jenna Kurosky earned medalist honors at the Big Northern Conference girls meet on Oct. 2, carding an 83 that marked her top round in four conference meets at Timber Pointe in Poplar Grove.
The Burlington Central senior will aim to go considerably lower at today's regionals. She knows the Sycamore Golf Club layout like the back roads that take her there from BC's campus for practice rounds most days after school.
"It's just a quiet confidence," Kurosky said. "They're not concrete thoughts, they're just in the back of my mind. I don't really bring a lot of attention to it."
She would rather credit an all-around game that shined throughout her round at Timber Pointe.
"My drives, they were definitely some of the best I had [last week], so that really helps," Kurosky said. "My hybrids and irons were really good, so that helped alot."
– Kevin Druley, firstname.lastname@example.org
IN THE GROOVE
St. Charles East, Sr.
What he did: Shaving two strokes from a solid round at St. Andrews during last week's Upstate Eight Conference River Meet, Molloy shot a 76 at Tuesday's 3A St. Charles East Regional. The host Saints won the team title and are bound for Monday's Naperville Central Sectional at Springbrook.
Burlington Central, Sr.
What he did: Weber led BC's blitz of Phillips Park at Tuesday's 2A Aurora Central Catholic Regional with a medalist round of 5-under 66. Central won the team title with a program-best 295, advancing to Monday's sectional at Park Hills in Freeport.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK Chrislyn Herring boasts an ace to her name. Herring, a Wheaton Academy freshman, notched a hole-in-one during an Oct. 2 dual win against Riverside-Brookfield on the 97-yard, par 3 second hole. Herring shot a 51 on the day, four strokes off the pace of teammate and fellow freshman Lauren Isenhart of Geneva.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD Which boys and girls golfers from the Kane County Chronicle coverage area advance to the state tournaments held downstate Oct. 18-19. Regionals opened Tuesday and conclude today, with sectionals set for early next week. "This time of year, it's about making adjustments and moving on," Geneva boys golfer Alex Schreiber said.
COACH SLY SEZ Sly's felt good about a coupla shots he's hit at St. Andrews and Phillips Park through the years, but this fox might spontaneously combust at the thought of approaching some of the things we saw Tuesday.
Definite hat tip to Luke Molloy of STC East and Matt Weber of Burlington Central for winning individual regional titles. Here's hoping their exciting start of the state series in these parts produces much more excitement and low scores.