The 2015 IHSA Girls & Boys Golf State Finals will unfold on Friday and Saturday, October 16-17, in Decatur and Bloomington-Normal respectively, with each competitor playing 18 holes each day. History could be made in both classes on the girl’s side. Charleston junior Lauren Chappell and Neuqua Valley senior Jessica Yuen are both two-time defending individual state champions in their respective classes, vying to become the first three-time state champs in state history.
GIRLS CLASS A
Althoff Catholic emerged from the field in 2014 to win its first-ever state title in girls’ golf, as the Crusaders edged runner-up Eldorado by the slimmest of margins en route to a three-stroke victory. Althoff graduated its top two players from that title team, but talented seniors Gabby David (81 at Sectionals) and Alaina Irwin (T20th in 2014 with 165) return to lead the repeat effort.
The top contender to overtake Althoff appears to be Rochester, who placed third in 2014 and returns all four scoring players from that squad, including senior Morgan Savage (77), who was second in the state last year with a 36-hole total of 150.
Charleston’s Chappell finished one stroke ahead of Savage for her second consecutive Class A individual state title last year and leads a Trojan team that returns its Top 5 players from a year ago, while also adding Chappell’s younger sister, freshman Paige (91). Led by senior Carlin Flannery (75), Massac County followed last year’s fifth-place team finish with a Sectional crown earlier this week.
Geneseo placed 12th in the state a year ago behind the play of current senior Monica Lieving (T11th, 162). Lieving added Sectional medalist honors this week (79) to help her team the Sectional crown (366). Lisle rounded out the Sectional team champs (371), paced by 87’s from seniors Hanna Altpeter and Savannah Zink.
Mt Carmel senior Abbey Leighty could make the top of the leaderboard crowded again in 2015, as she carded a 152 last year to finish third behind Chappell and Savage, respectively. Richmond-Burton junior Mackenzie Hahn (10th, 160) hopes to move up this season after a Top 10 performance in 2014, while Waterloo senior Haley Faus and IC Catholic junior Maddie Hurt, a Sectional medalist in 2015, eye Top 10 finishes after tying for 16th (164) last year.
GIRLS CLASS AA
The Hinsdale Central girls’ golf team could be following its boy’s program blueprint by stringing together consecutive state titles. The top three players from last year’s team, which won its first state title via a 15-stroke victory, return and are headlined by sophomore Roshannah Gaur (T8th in 2014 with 155) and junior Jessica Lee (T18th, 160).
Loyola Academy, the 2014 runner-up, is expected to be a top contender once again thanks in part to the return of two of the Top 15 players in the state from a year ago in senior Blake Yaccino (T8th, 155) and sophomore Nina Rutkowski (T13th, 157).
Fellow Top 5 finishers from 2014, New Trier (3rd) and Wheaton Warrenville South (4th), both return talent and experience, starting with senior Louise McCulloch and sophomore Sarah Hauenstein, respectively. The pair tied for 18th last year with two-day scores of 160.
St. Charles North (311) and Galesburg (356) claimed the final two team Sectional crowns this season. Both are led by Top 20 players, as junior Gianna Furrie led St. Charles North with a 157 last season (T13th), one shot ahead of Galesburg junior Taylor Nesselroad (T15th, 158). Nesselroad (75) won Sectional medalist honors earlier this week, as did Furrie’s teammate freshman Megan Furtney (69).
All eyes will be on Yuen for medalist honors, but plenty of challengers lie in wait, starting with Sectional winners Lauren Beaudreau (69) from Benet and New Trier’s Penelope Tir (71). Guilford sophomore Madasyn Pettersen finished fourth a year ago (151), while Barrington junior Reena Sulkar (T8th, 155), Richwoods senior Erica Kerr (T11th, 156) and Fenwick sophomore Stephanie Mroz (17th, 159) could all be names to watch on the leaderboard.
BOYS CLASS 1A
Two-time defending Class 1A state champion El Paso-Gridley is one of four returning team qualifiers from a year ago in Class 1A. The Titans graduated their top two players from last season, with but still have talent and experience, starting with senior Brady Colburn (78 at Sectionals, 18th in 2014 with a 157).
The door appears to be open for perennial contender Nashville to claim another trophy, as the Hornets return seniors Tyler Wall and Riley Edwards from last year’s third-place team. Wall is the top returnee in the field after placing 5th at state last year (151), while Edwards was just four strokes behind his teammate in Sectional action this year with a 78.
Byron placed fifth a year ago and returns three scoring players from that squad, including junior Trent Snodgrass, whose 77 at Sectionals this week was good enough for medalist honors.
Paced by junior Nic Hollencamp’s 79, Mater Dei tallied the best 1A Sectional team score (328) this season in Class 1A, making the Knights a serious threat for their second state title in school history (1993). Quincy Notre Dame (331) and Bloomington Central Catholic (334) are also on everyone’s radar after joining Mater Dei and Byron (329) as Sectional team champions. Quincy Notre Dame and Bloomington Central Catholic are led by individual Sectional winner Drew Eaton (77) and sophomore Owen Talbott (78), respectively.
Four individual qualifiers in the field placed in the Top 20 in the state a year ago, including Wayne City junior Nate Caudle (154, 10th in 2014) and Robinson senior Tom Goodman (158, 19th). Meanwhile, Urbana University junior Chopra tallied the best Sectional score in the state in Class 1A this season, carding a 70, the same score he used to win his Regional.
BOYS CLASS 2A
The good news for the Potters from Morton was that the team held off Glenbard South by seven strokes down the stretch (615-622) a year ago for the first boys’ golf state title in school history. The bad news for the rest of the field in 2015 is that Morton returns the catalyst of that team, led by the brother tandem of sophomore Tommy Kuhl (70 at Sectionals) and senior Pete Kuhl (71), intact. Tommy vies to repeat as the Class 2A medalist after winning with a 36-hole total of 142 last year, while Pete placed 11th last season (153). The team won its Sectional with a state-best total of 301 this week.
Althoff Catholic won’t lack for experience either, as the Crusaders return to state with the same six players from a year ago. The duo of senior Matthew McCarthy (T7th in 2014 with 151) and sophomore Dylan Davidson (75) helped Althoff to a Sectional title (313) this week.
Wheaton St. Francis has its top two players back from last year’s Top 5 squad, including senior Jonathan Nocek (77, T11th in 2014 with 153), while Geneseo (319) and Fenwick (320) both enter state with the momentum of Sectional team titles.
Glenbard South senior Russell Matos (5th, 148) and Nazareth senior Matthew Clark (T9th, 152) also carded Top 10 individual finishes last year, but there could be several new names to watch on the leaderboard as well. Three Sectional medalists qualified individually in 2015, including Springfield senior Bailey Gill (68), Aurora Central Catholic junior Mac Cowen (76), and Chicago Heights Marian Catholic senior Casey Domke (75). Jace Swartzlander, the fourth and final Sectional champ (69), helped the Orphans of Centralia qualify for state as a team.
BOYS CLASS 3A
A bevy of talent returns to the Class 3A field, starting with three-time defending state champ Hinsdale Central, who will try to become the fifth school in state history to win four consecutive team titles. Red Devil senior Kenneth Li was brilliant a year ago, winning the individual crown by five strokes with a two-day total of 140. Junior teammate Brendan O’Reilly was third last season, just seven shots off his teammates’ winning pace.
Barrington counters with the return of all four scoring players from last year’s third-place team and five total players who shot 75 or better in Sectional play this year. Top 12 state finishers from 2014, junior Timothy Lim (T6th, 150) and junior Tom Calbi (T12th, 151), are leaders for the Broncos.
The nine-time state champion Trevians from New Trier can never be counted out either, especially when last year’s runner-up team returns its top two finishers from 2014 in seniors Andrew Huber (6th, 150) and Justin Choi (T12th, 151).
Perhaps what is even more impressive is that despite the aforementioned returnees, it was Lake Forest (289), Neuqua Valley (296), York (301) and Edwardsville (308) that claimed the team Sectional titles in 2015. The latter two did so with Sectional medalists leading the way in senior Will Gunst (69) for York and sophomore Tanner White (71) for Edwardsville, respectively. Lake Forest’s state-best Sectional team total of 289 was paced by sophomore Jed Thomas (70), while senior Greg Crowley’s 73 was tops for Neuqua Valley.
Providence Catholic junior Ricky Costello and Wheaton Warrenville South senior Brian McCaffrey tied for sixth individually a year ago at state with scores of 150, but neither won Sectional medalist honors this season, feats achieved by Highland Park senior Noah Fishbein (69) and Benet junior Nick Schanzer (71).
Class A-Red Tail Run Golf Course (Decatur)
Par 72 (36-36)
Class AA-Hickory Point Golf Club (Decatur)
Par 72 (36-36)
Class 1A-Prairie Vista Golf Club (Bloomington)
Par 72 (36-36)
Class 2A-Illinois State University's Weibring Golf Club (Normal)
Par 71 (36-35)
Class 3A-The Den At Fox Creek Golf Course (Bloomington)
Par 72 (36-36)
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