Stevenson sophomore Allie Santos came to the 18th hole at Randall Oaks Golf Club on Monday needing a birdie for an even-par 71 and the lowest round of her career.
Santos put herself in great position off the tee, then hit her approach about 8 feet past the hole. Before she could attempt the putt, she had to mark her ball four times as wind gusts kept blowing leaves at her.
The conditions finally calmed down enough, and Santos rolled in the downhill putt to cap her victory at the Class 2A Dundee-Crown sectional.
Actually, by the time Santos got to the 18th green the weather was better than it had been all day. Still windy but the downpours had passed and the temperatures had gone up on what was mostly a miserable day to play golf.
“The weather was horrible,” said Santos, whose umbrella nearly blew away on No. 6. “I was freezing. I just had to keep the ball in play, keep it straight, keep calm. The weather was stressing me out because it was so windy.”
Without a state tournament title to defend this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, the sectional championship ended up the next best thing for Stevenson. Santos got off to a hot start with birdies at No. 2, 4 and 5 but also had three bogeys on the front for an even-par 36. She credited her short game with saving several strokes.
Freshman teammate Chelsea She tied for second with a 76, and junior Emily Duan and freshman Rylie Pryor carded 82s for Stevenson’s winning 311 total.
“Going into the state series I wanted to end on a good note,” Santos said. “We stayed strong through the weather because I know a few of us may have wanted to just go home. I know I wanted to go home.”
Three players in the 63-player field did withdraw during the round. With Santos on the 12th hole golfers came off the course for about 45 minutes while one storm blew through. They played through a steady rain for much of their rounds.
Vernon Hills sophomore Lexi Schulman tied for second at 76. Wauconda sophomore Liv Romer tied for fourth with a 78.
Huntley senior Nina Shaffer, Sycamore freshman Brianna Chamoun, Barrington freshman Leah Gaidos and Burlington Central senior Emily Koh all tied for sixth with 79s.
Barrington took second as a team at 323. The Fillies played without last year’s individual state champ Mara Janess who had committed to a tournament in Florida before the IHSA announced there would be a sectional.
“I was pretty happy with how all of us did even through the brutal cold,” Barrington sophomore Simran Singh said. “We all pulled it together without Mara.”
Singh shot an 80 and was joined by Gaidos, senior Sophia Dennison (81) and freshman Sydney Terada (83) with Barrington’s counting scores.
“I couldn’t feel my hands for most of the round,” Terada said.
“It was pretty brutal out there especially toward the middle when the wind gusts were there and it started downpouring but we all battled through it and the girls in my group were so sweet,” Dennison said. “We were just trying to joke our way through it as much as possible.”
Lake Forest (336), Guilford (350), Burlington Central (355), Wauconda (356), Mundelein (371) and Harlem (387) rounded out the eight-team field.
“We were consistent all year,” said Burlington Central coach Kyle Nelson, whose team won the first Fox Valley Conference championship in school history and also qualified for sectionals for the first time. “It seemed like if one golfer wasn’t playing very well we would have someone else step up.”
Junior Maya Gusciora added an 86 for the Rockets, second to Koh.
“It was very hard to play,” Koh said. “It’s just mindset and focusing and you need to focus more. That’s how I sort of went through it. I just kept focusing on the ball and nothing else.”
Crystal Lake Central’s Renata Petersen shot an 80, and McHenry’s Madison Donovan, Kaneland’s Katharine Marshall and Elizabeth Tucker from Prairie Ridge all posted 81s.
Class 1A Seneca Sectional
Rosary shot a 378 to take fourth place at The Creek Golf Course. Rosary's Ashley Auchstetter shot an 87 for 14th individually, Molly Regan shot an 89 for 16th, Morgan White 98 for 31st and Brooke Stum 104 for 44th.