The girls golf season has teed off. Here is a preview of the teams from around Kane County.
Coach: Tim Kauffmann
Top athletes: Sophie Golson, sr.; Lauren Grychowski, sr.; Tyne Haverkate, so.; Kate Kabbe, so.; Holly Langdon, so.; Violet McCann, so.; Brooke Miara, so.; Ainslee Parker, sr.
Outlook: Grychowski is the one athlete in the Bulldogs’ program who has experienced the game under the pressure-cooker of October dynamics. The senior advanced out of the brutally difficult Class 3A West Aurora Regional last fall. Much will be expected for Grychowski as the Bulldogs’ most-seasoned returnee. “I am super excited for the season,” Grychowski said. Honing her skills on the ever-competitive summer circuit, Grychowski had a central mission. “I played in seven [summer] tournaments,” Grychowski said. “The goal for those tournaments was to get me ready for the fall season. I think they did.”
BURLINGTON CENTRAL ROCKETS
Coach: Kyle Nelson
Top athletes: Emily Ahers, sr.; Rosemarie Barnes, sr.; Sydney Bergeron, sr.; Jasmine Betancourt, so.; Maya Gusciora, jr.; Emily Koh, jr.; Madelyn Menke,sr.; Kelsey O’Connor, jr.; Isabelle Patterson, so.
Outlook: Burlington Central had its season come to an end last fall with a heart-wrenching fourth-place finish at the Class 2A Crystal Lake Central Regional. But Barnes was one of three at-large sectional qualifiers for the Rockets. The senior, along with Kishwaukee River Conference champion O’Connor, will power Burlington Central this season. But the Rockets will be one of the first programs at the school to experience a major shift. “We won the KRC last year but are moving to the Fox Valley,” Nelson said. Koh is a junior to watch.
Coach: Doug Ross
Top athletes: Claire Anderson, sr.; Reese Clark, so.; Avery Frick, sr.; Maya Hawkins, jr.; Kaylin Johnson, so.; Lexi Leden, jr.; Annie McQueeny, sr.; Annie Monroe, so.; Colleen Rutledge, jr.
Outlook: Building on its success from last season, Geneva opened the season with impressive tournament victories at Plainfield North and Hersey last week. “We won five tournaments last year,” Ross said. The Vikings were the third qualifier out of the Crystal Lake Central Regional last fall but failed to advance any individuals to the state finals. “I moved them into tougher tournaments this year,” Ross said. “The only way we’re going to get better is playing the downstate-[qualifying] schools.” Only sophomores, Clark and Johnson anchor the Vikings’ lineup; Frick is the senior leader.
Coach: Mark Meyer
Top athletes: Arianna Falor, fr.; Kathrine Marshall, fr.; Emile Schultz, fr.; Emily Skiba, jr., Julia Skiba, fr.
Outlook: Kaneland is certainly not bereft of exceptional female golfers in its history. Hayley Guyton (2007-10) was memorably the Knights’ top-ranked golfer her final two years in the program — regardless of gender – and authored a state runner-up finish at the girls Class AA tournament in 2009. But only once (2014) has Kaneland had enough girls to field an independent team for state-series play. “We are going to try and get them in some competition,” Meyer said. “Hopefully we can put together a girls team that can compete with some of the best programs in the area.” The elder Skiba will likely see playing time on the Knights’ underclass boys team.
Coach: Joe Hughes
Top athletes: Ashley Auchstetter, jr.; Sydney Johnson, so.; Anastacia Mucha, jr.; Annabelle Parolek, so; Molly Regan, so.; Nicole Stuebner, so.; Brooke Stumm, so; Morgan Witte, so.
Outlook: Hughes is supremely optimistic as the season commences. “I believe this team has as much or more potential as any team during my time at Rosary,” Hughes said of his reigning Class 1A sectional qualifier. “With 14 players in the program, the majority of them have the ability to make an impact on varsity.” Auchstetter, Parolek and Stumm comprised half of the Royals’ sectional lineup last season. Witte, fundamentally sound, is the top newcomer. “[Witte] has shown a lot of talent and posted very solid scores.”
ST. CHARLES EAST SAINTS
Coach: Jared Gutesha
Top athletes: Paige Breslin, sr.; Abby Buechele, so.; Emily Charles, fr.; Allison Edgar, so.; Aleesa Luecker, jr.; Sarah Podjasek, jr.; Hannah Reavely, jr.; Ella Tassone, so.
Outlook: The Saints had their season come to a close with a development not seen in the program in recent memory: St. Charles East did not advance a single player to the sectional. But the Saints, a traditional power, will look to rebound behind senior leader Breslin. “I do like how the girls have progressed,” Gutesha said. “I like what the girls are doing right now. They have definitely gotten better since last year.” Podjasek, Tassone, Charles and Buechele currently follow Breslin in the Saints’ playing order; Luecker mans the sixth slot.
ST. CHARLES NORTH NORTH STARS
Coach: Irish Whalen
Top athletes: Brooke Bayless, sr.; Kendall DePaul, sr.; Sophia Evers, sr.; Aleska Gizewicz, so.; Blaire McDuffie, sr.; Catie Nekola, so.; Isabella Spinazze, jr.; Danielle Trumbo, sr.
Outlook: Behind four Division I recruits, headed by current Duke freshman Megan Furtney, St. Charles North captured the first state championship in school history last fall. Nekola and Spinazze — as well as Bayless in a spot-starter role—also played invaluable roles. “It’s a lot different playing [No.1] han five,” Nekola said of her new responsibilities. “Getting back to state is definitely an individual and team goal. I know if I have a bad round, it’s not going to kill the team.” Nekola was an age-group (14-15) player of the year on the ultra-competitive IJGA summer circuit.
ST. FRANCIS SPARTANS
Coach: Gay Crain
Top athletes: Kaitlyn Blaha, sr.; Elizabeth Grivetti, sr.; Sarah Grivetti, so.; Carly Kriske,fr.; Katherine Lemke, jr.; Cameron Marr, jr.; Beth Ann Morgese, sr.; Kayla Olson, so..
Outlook: St.Francis’ historic season last fall ended with a seventh-place finish at the Class 1A state tournament in Decatur. Never before had St. Francis advanced as a team to the final weekend of the season. “It was an amazing experience,” Elizabeth Grivetti said. But the Spartans’ reward was elevation to the largest class for this season. “We are going to play a tougher schedule,” Crain said as a result. Geneva resident Lemke was the Metro Suburban Conference champion en route to an all-state performance. Marr hails from St. Charles and is equally lethal for the Spartans.