As the competition heated up, so did Katharine Marshall.
The Kaneland junior golfer surged throughout the season and ended up taking 14th at the Class 2A State Tournament – an event she thought of more as a reunion as she made her first trip to Decatur for the final.
“It was so fun,” Marshall said. “I play summer golf tournaments with a lot of the girls that were at state this year. So seeing them, and kind of just the whole thing - going downstate, you get to take two days off school, stay in a hotel. Obviously staying in a hotel isn’t that exciting, it’s just you get to go down with the school. So that was fun, and I got to see my friends. Obviously you’re playing with the best in the state, so it’s just a great experience overall.”
Marshall shot a 76-74–150 in the finale, capping a season during which she was a medalist in all but one event. She was named the 2021 Daily Chronicle Girls Golfer of the Year.
Marshall didn’t qualify for state as a freshman. Last year, she would have qualified had the state tournament been held. Instead, because of COVID-19 restrictions at the time, only the sectional was held.
Kaneland coach Joe Hughes said that because of her summer schedule, she was very much in her element playing at the state tourney for the first time.
“The competition is what she wanted. She wanted to play against the best players in the state,” Hughes said. “She was able to keep her composure because she’s used to playing in pressure situations. The work she puts in during the summer sets her up perfectly for a setting like that.”
Marshall said facing some of the best competition in the state, as well as playing in front of her family, helped her stay focused at the state tourney.
“I just wanted to compete with them, so I set my mind to it,” Marshall said. “It’s what helped me play my best. Coach was there, helping me out, My assistant coach came down, too. And my family was there. They came down all the way to Decatur to watch. That made me want to play well for them. That was helping me to stay focused, stay motivated.”
Hughes said Marshall set the bar high for her teammates and was a model teammate. And it wasn’t just her game – her course etiquette and knowledge of the rules helped maker her a leader on the team.
He also said she was incredibly consistent throughout the season.
“It didn’t matter what type of course we played,” Hughes said. “We played a couple of nicer courses, and we played some not-so-nice courses. Everything else kind of fit in the middle. Regardless of difficulty, she was the best player on the course.”
Marshall is back for her senior year next season, looking for a second straight state berth. Hughes said he’s expecting big things for both her and the team.
“We’re set up to be even better next year,” Hughes said. “Katharine is set up for an even better season next year. She has a big summer season planned.”