Girls Golf: Freshman Elyssa Abdullah fights off tough conditions, leads Hinsdale Central to runaway 15th straight WSC title
Abdullah posts 1-over par 73, Red Devils sweep first five places for 39-shot win
By Bill Stone
LOCKPORT – Tough playing conditions frustrated even the best girls golfers at the West Suburban Conference Meet Wednesday, including Hinsdale Central medalist Elyssa Abdullah.
“My umbrella flew in the lake because it was really windy,” Abdullah said. “(But) I got it back. It barely went in.”
On the course, the freshman handled the wind and rain like a seasoned pro as her 1-over-par 73 won by four strokes at Broken Arrow in Lockport. The Red Devils swept the first five places for an outstanding team score of 307 and a 39-shot win to secure their 15th consecutive WSC crown.
Downers Grove North (346) finished second for the second straight season with York (371) and Glenbard West (378) third and fourth.
Abdullah opened the season impressively Aug. 13 with an invite-winning 66 at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur, the Class 2A state course where the Red Devils hope to return Oct. 8-9. Abdullah showed consistency and toughness Wednesday with an even 36 on her back nine.
“On the last hole, I had a chip in for par from a really hard spot. I hit my second shot in the water because I was going for the pin and then I had to save. It was kind of memorable (for me),” Abdullah said. “It’s pretty cool (to win). The conditions were really tough and it was kind of difficult to overcome, but I had to make a lot of putts and a lot of other good shots as well.”
Hinsdale Central seniors Libby Larson (77) and Sarah Thornton (78), freshman Toral Bhatt and sophomore Caroline Owens (79s) completed the top-five sweep. Sophomore Parker Matthews (86, 10th) and seniors Nadia Burt (88, 12th) and Julia DiTrani (89, 14th) also earned all-conference medalist honors by finishing among the top 20 with scorecard tiebreakers.
Larson and Thornton have been all-conference three times and Owens and DiTrani the past two seasons.
“It’s awesome (going 1-to-5). We’ve got a pretty strong team this year so we’re hoping to do well down at state, if we make it,” Larson said. “This is like a family, all of us golfers. It’s great to all get together and play our best games.”
Finishing sixth through ninth were four seniors – York’s Audrey Matias (83), Downers Grove North’s Audrey Stanton (83), Hinsdale South’s Dana Euske (84) and Downers North’s Jessica Cagney (86). A three-time all-conference player, Matias missed a state berth at 2019 sectionals by one stroke. Slightly better weather than Wednesday may help.
“Actually 50s and 60s and slightly raining is my favorite golfing weather,” Matias said. “I was very excited when I saw the weather (report) last night but then when the wind started picking up and then the heavy rain, I was a little scared.”
Stanton was the only player Wednesday to earn all-conference honors for the fourth time and with her highest finish. Stanton was eighth in 2020.
“It feels awesome and great to have four years with such a great team and kind of be there and experience it all,” said Stanton, also seeking her first state trip. “It’s just a fun experience. It may be difficult and heartbreaking, but it’s always exciting in the end.”
Euske was the highest finisher among Gold Division players and improved upon her all-conference 14th in 2020.
“I work on my game really hard and it’s great to see it sometimes come together and actually get something out of it,” Euske said. “Sometimes we struggle for players so it’s great to represent (Hinsdale South) and just be able to share this with everybody.”
Also earning all-conference were Downers North senior Mandy McGinn (88, 11th) and junior Ruby Bartkowiak (89, 15th), York sophomore Charlie Matias (92, 19th), Glenbard West seniors Anna Burrus (90, 16th) and Brooke Roscich (93, 20th), Downers Grove South senior Jackie Kuczkowski (91, 17th), and Willowbrook senior Emma Rattana (92, 18th).
Kuczkowski is a three-time all-conference finisher. Burns and Rattana also were all-conference last season.
Lyons Township finished fifth (383). Senior Sylvia Kozub (88, 13th) earned her third straight all-conference honors but hoped to improve upon 10th the past two seasons. During her 10th hole, Kozub suffered perhaps the worst of all competitors from the elements.
“Actually, a gust of wind came and blew my push cart into the pond. We were lucky enough to get the clubs out. Everything came out but my phone,” Kozub said. “My clubs are fine. I just had to make sure my grips were dry before every shot. It did affect me mentally but (LT coach Jeff Johnson) was really helpful in making sure to tell me to focus on the positive.”