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Geneva girls golf’s Novak, Kirl advance to sectionals

PLAINFIELD – Of the 12 golfers Batavia and Geneva sent to participate in Wednesday’s Class AA Neuqua Valley Girls Golf Regional at Naperbrook, only a pair of Vikings were able to keep their seasons going.

Geneva junior Mary Clare Novak shot an 88 over 18 holes and sophomore Kari Kirl carded a 92 to place themselves among the 10 individual qualifiers advancing to sectional play Monday in Rockford along with the three advancing teams – Naperville North, Waubonsie Valley and Naperville Central.

“Hopefully, I can get a practice round in before we have to go over there,” Novak said. “It’s a first for me. I played in a playoff last year to go on, and I lost.”

It’s also a first for Kirl.

“I’m pretty excited because this is my first year on varsity,” Kirl said. “I felt like it was hard, but I played a lot better on the front nine than the back. I feel like I came out strong finishing this round.”

Kirl also hopes to get in some practice before playing Monday at Ingersoll Golf Course.

“My putting was not the best today, but this weekend I will practice my putting like crazy,” she said. 

Novak had a very consistent day.

“I played pretty well,” Novak said. “I went 44-44, so I guess I was pretty evenly matched the whole way through. I had one rough hole, but I made up for it with a birdie.”

The birdie came on the 166-yard, par-3 15th hole. Novak put her tee shot on the green and then sank a long putt.

“It’s always exciting to have a few players that are advancing,” Geneva coach Eric Hatczel said. “Today, though, I think we missed an opportunity to qualify a few more girls. I think we have a pretty talented team. The front side, with a little nerves and jitters, just kind of got to us. That made it a little tougher for Nicole [Hassels] or even Elise [Anderson], who have qualified in the past.”

Hassels scored a 96 and Anderson finished with a 95. Allie Henrie posted a round of 94 to help Geneva record a team score of 369, good for sixth place in the nine-team field.

Led by meet medalist Taylor Arenson’s 2-under-par 70, Naperville North won the regional title with a team score of 310, 20 strokes better than Waubonsie Valley. Naperville Central (353) was a distant third.

Batavia finished ninth with a team score of 386. Junior Erin Ewert led the Bulldogs with a 95.

“I was feeling pretty good when I started out. I was feeling confident,” Ewert said. “I did not do as good on the second nine, but I tried to stay focused.”

Ewert started her day on the back nine, shooting a 43.

“My chipping was actually good today,” she said. “I hit a very good bunker shot and I’m proud of that. I’m not really good out of the bunkers.”

Candace Eamon shot a 96 for Batavia, Lauren Anderson added a 97 and Rebecca Hasseman finished at 98. All but Eamon will return for the Bulldogs next year.

“I’m proud of my girls,” Batavia coach Morgan Connell said. “A couple of them had the rounds of their life. … Candace, she’s gone low a little bit earlier this season and could not get back down there, so this is a good finish for her.”

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