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St. Charles North girls golf freshmen lead way to sectionals

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 5:35 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
St. Charles North’s Kate Lillie tees off on the fourth hole Wednesday during the IHSA Class AA Prairie Ridge Girls Golf Regional in Prairie Grove.

PRAIRIE GROVE – St. Charles North freshmen girls golfers Gianna Furrie and Kate Lillie shot separate 78s at Wednesday’s Class AA Prairie Ridge Regional.

The deadlock eventually prompted the longtime friends to shoot rock, paper, scissors outside the Prairie Isle clubhouse.

An additional medal will be sent to North after Furrie and Lillie tied for fourth individually to key a second-place team finish. For now, North’s young standouts are thinking nothing of it on their way to Monday’s Rockford Guilford Sectional.

“We’ve been in the same tournaments together for a while,” Lillie said, “and so it’s really cool to see us up together and see how we’ve grown as golfers.”

North totaled a team score of 327, finishing behind the champion Crystal Lake Central co-op (321) and ahead of Barrington (338), the final team qualifier to sectionals at Ingersoll Golf Course.

St. Charles East advanced four individuals. Senior Darby Crane, the de facto big sister of the group, paced the Saints with a 91. Sophomore Mary Ellen Combs (100) and freshmen Reagan Stanton (103) and Kacie Gaffney (104) followed.

“We had to have some element of support and encouragement on our team, so I kind of took that role and I’m coaching them in that way,” said Crane, a three-time sectional qualifier who had to withdraw from last year’s competition for medical reasons.

North’s senior contingent of Carly Hudon (85) and Jessica Grill (86) rounded out the scoring, helping the team return to familiar and exciting ground.

Before transferring to North from Sycamore for her final year of high school, Hudon qualified for the state meet as a freshman from a 2010 sectional held at Ingersoll, a more straightforward municipal layout.

In more recent Ingersoll history, the North Stars finished third at Sept. 21’s Rockford Guilford Invitational. Their team score of 339 was among the lowest in coach Chris Patrick’s 11 seasons.

“I love that course so much. I don’t know what it is, but it’s always a good one, so I’m really psyched about it,” Hudon said. “Got to get some flaws figured out from today, but it’s probably just today.”

Prairie Isle was not as familiar to St. Charles players in a sectional heavy with competition from the northwest suburbs. The North Stars dealt with rain for much of a weekend practice round, all in the name of acquainting themselves with what Patrick called “some subtle, tricky holes.”

Among them: the double dogleg par-5 18th, which offers the obstacle of a long hickory tree at the dogleg corner of the second shot.

For Furrie and Lillie, who met as Haines Middle Schoolers and began competing in junior golf around the same time, the challenges came and went with little incident as both played 6-over par.

“It’s nice to get them coming in together,” Patrick said. “It’s huge. it’s really exciting.”

East coach Rod Osborne, meanwhile, is enthused about the Saints’ young core supporting Crane, and is eager to see how the team responds at sectionals.

“We know we’re going to have to shoot our personal best to make it as an individual, but it’s more experience for those that are going, especially the young ones,” Osborne said. “More experience for them to be a part of it and learn a little more about where they’re at and where they need to go.”

For the record, Lillie defeated Furrie in the rock, paper, scissors match that determined who received the first individual medal. The North Stars gathered for photos after that, capping a long day that included tedious, six-hour rounds for most players.

That wasn’t exactly the best follow-up to an early-morning bus ride, but North recovered in plenty of time.

“We were tired and trying to wake up,” Hudon said, “and then we really woke up when we got here.”

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