AURORA – Freshmen Amaani Patel and Samantha Rottinger had no idea what it would be like playing for the Lake Park girls golf team. Now they’re experiencing what it feels like to win a conference title.
Patel led the Lancers with a season-best round of 79, Rottinger and senior Marisa Lerario each fired 80s and sophomore Isha Patel added an 89 during a rainy and cool Tuesday at Phillips Park Golf Course in Aurora.
It proved to be more than enough for the Lancers (328) to get past runner-up Wheaton North (338), third-place St. Charles East (348) and the remainder of the eight-team field to win the DuKane Conference.
“Coming into this year, I had no idea what this would be like,” Rottinger said. “We’re so close and have great chemistry. It’s been a really fun season.”
Patel had a 42 on the front nine and mixed four pars, three bogeys and a pair of birdies on the back to close with a 37 and break 80.
“My round started off a little rough, but I came back on the back nine,” she said. “It was tough, but we pulled through. It was nice to win conference as a freshman. I really feel that my coaches have helped me not be so nervous and to focus on the next shot even if you hit a bad shot because you can’t go back to it, so focus on the next one.”
Losing Madison Place to graduation certainly hurt Lake Park, but getting two highly talented newcomers has the Lancers in a very good place.
“I had no clue they were coming onto this team and how good they were going to be,” Lerario said. “It’s been so fun. They’re always messing around with each other. I’m really grateful to win it and to do it again now as a senior I’m just very happy. We are a really good team this year and have a good chance of making it far.”
The rainy weather and slick conditions on the course certainly played a factor, but it wasn’t something that Wheaton North senior Bridget Craig was going to use as an excuse. If anything, she was well-prepared to tackle such conditions and win the individual title.
“I really didn’t look at the weather until I woke up this morning,” she said. “The big thing today was I played really smart. I only pulled out my driver three times and saved a lot of my shots. My wedges were good and I tried to keep a neutral mindset. I had a lot of makes today and I was confident. My team really helped me. They are one of the reasons I was able to do what I was able to do.”
Craig was 3-under on the back nine before a double-bogey dropped her to an even-par 71.
“In past years I’ve kind of come close to winning,” she said. “I think I had a third and seventh place or right around that range, so it feels good to finally finish it out. This was the first tournament of the whole season where I wasn’t thinking about my score, I was thinking about my shots and what I can control and what I can’t control. It’s a roller coaster. I have some good days and some bad days of attitude and emotions, but it was good.”
Seniors Lizzie Elftmann (84), Lucy Rutgens (90) and Maddy Schultz (93) also contributed for the Falcons.
Batavia freshman Avery Sheehan carded a 77 to finish in second place.
“Putting was harder today because the greens were so wet and the speeds were different,” she said. “I think I just had to change my mindset and get through [the rain and conditions].”
Batavia senior Mandy Naylor took third with a 78 to help the Bulldogs (351) take fourth place.
“The rain and the cold made it really hard but you kind of just have to adapt,” she said. “I made sure to play more safe. I didn’t risk much today.”
St. Charles East junior Manuela Ramirez led the Saints with an 80. Sophomore Charlotte Tassone scored an 87, junior Emma Jones added a 90 and sophomore Olivia Voasburgh finished with a 91.
Wheaton Warrenville South (353) slipped past St. Charles North (354) for fifth place. Glenbard North (380) and Geneva (436) also competed.
Tigers senior Grace Cavin (79) tied for fourth place. Panthers senior Nicole McGuire (80) tied Lerario and Rottinger for sixth while sophomore Angel Nguyen (84) tied Elftmann for 11th place. North Stars junior Rylee Huddleston (83) placed 10th.