WOODRIDGE – Elyssa Abdullah has big goals and big dreams for her varsity career.
A standout golfer for most of her life, the Hinsdale Central freshman started her playoff journey last week. Joining a program known for success throughout the state, Abdullah said she’s ready to make her mark in the state tournament.
She completed another excellent showing toward her goals on Monday, carding an even-par 72 to win the individual title at the Class 2A Hinsdale South Sectional, held at Village Greens of Woodridge in Woodridge.
At the Glenbard East regional, Abdullah carded a 70 to finish one shot behind teammate Sarah Thornton for top honors. On a warm and pleasant Monday, Abdullah nudged out teammate Caroline Owens (73) for the individual sectional title.
Led by Abdullah and Owens, the Red Devils captured the sectional team title with a stellar 302. Thornton had the third-best Hinsdale score, finishing with a 78 to build momentum heading into Friday’s 2A state tournament at Hickory Point Golf Course in Forsyth.
“I just tried to do my best today, not worried about what anyone else shot,” Abdullah said. “I was pretty consistent, stuck a lot of shots close to the pin. I had a rough hole on 17, but made a long putt which helped me win. I was hoping to go under par, but I had a few rough holes. But I’m still excited, and can’t wait for state.”
Despite her youth, Abdullah enters the competitive state meet with plenty of big-game golf under her belt. She shot a season-best 66 as an individual early in the season.
“I’m looking forward to state,” she said. “I’ve been working hard all summer and improving. I want to win (state), as a team and an individual.”
Owens, a sophomore, said she was happy shooting a 1-over par, just missing equaling her low round of the year by two strokes.
“I had some ups and downs, but overall it was pretty good,” Owens said. “We won sectionals last year, and couldn’t go to state, so I’m so happy we get to go to state this year and experience it. I had some good shots and stuck it close a few times. I’m excited for this weekend and years to come. We’re a young team. I’m going to keep working hard.”
Neuqua Valley’s Rebecca Wu placed third, shooting a 74 to guide the Wildcats to a second-place showing in the team standings with a 322. Downers Grove North was the final team to make the state cut with a 339.
Lockport senior Lizzie Anderson is closing out her career in a flourish. After carding a 73 to win last week’s Andrew Regional, Anderson advanced to the state meet by shooting a 74. Benet freshman Audrey Wake (77), Yorkville junior Mia Natividad (78), Oswego Co-Op sophomore Shyell Lowe (78), Benet senior Olivia Ruffalo (78), Riverside-Brookfield sophomore Mayan Covarrubia (79) and Hinsdale South senior Dana Euske (79) were among the area golfers to make the cut for state.
Anderson admitted it was a long road back for her to the state tournament after missing her sophomore season due to a shoulder injury.
“I’m very excited,” Anderson said. “It’s only my second time going to state, and first time since freshman year. It’s going to be a whole new group of people at state. The last time I went to state it was all seniors, and I was a freshman. Now, I’m a senior, so that’s crazy.
“I just tried to stay focused. I was little nervous, but I just tried to get over my nerves in the first couple of holes. After that, it was pretty smooth. The back nine felt like it played slow, but I played with a really good group of girls that I knew for a long time. It was really fun. I just had a good time out there.
Lockport coach Matt Major said his standout senior is ending her career at the ideal place — state.
“Lizzie has played very consistent all year, winning the regional and playing well today,” Major said. “After she missing her sophomore year, it’s great to see her play so well this season.”
With the top three teams advancing and the top 10 individuals not on an advancing team, Downers Grove North snuck into the team state party.
A four-year varsity player, Downers Grove North senior Audrey Stanton said she was happy to help lead her team to state. Stanton led the Trojans with an 80, shaving three strokes off her regional score of 83.
“Looking back at all my strokes, I wish I could’ve made a few more putts,” Stanton said. “But I’m happy about this. Regionals was little tough for me, but I felt more confident today. This is my third year at sectionals. Two years I missed by just a little getting to state. I had a bit more stress on me, but I stayed positive and stayed in the moment. I improved in many ways this season.”
Downers Grove North senior Jessica Cagney, a third-year varsity player, shot an 83 to post the second-best score on her team. She shot a 78 at last week’s regional.
“I wish I could’ve played better because I know this course,” Cagney said. “I don’t know what went wrong, but overall I’m still satisfied. This was great.”
Oswego East coach Brian Chandler said Lowe is heading to state with confidence after topping her regional score of an 82. Lowe finished with a 78 on Monday.
“Shyell’s been playing great golf at the end of the season,” Chandler said. “She kind of got sick toward the end of the regular season, but came back and got herself back in a groove. Since the conference tournament, she’s been lights-out and carrying us. She’s been playing really well lately, which is great to see.”
Lowe said she was happy for the opportunity to compete for a spot at the state meet, especially since the IHSA did not have a state tournament last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was really happy today,” Lowe said. “I just had a positive attitude coming out on the course. I played this course before, so that helped me. I was happy with my score. I got three birdies, so that helped. I’m really excited to go to state, to compete against the best people at state.”