LENA – The game of golf is purely individual in nature, yet high school competition adds in a team aspect that allows more players to play deeper into the fall.
That held true at Wednesday’s Class 1A Pearl City Regional.
The Eastland golf program made its postseason debut 2,190 days previous to Wednesday, and celebrated the 6-year anniversary 2 days early with its first ever regional championship. The Cougars finished with a team total of 388 strokes, four clear of Dixon (392) and 27 shots ahead of Rock Falls (415) at Wolf Hollow Golf Course.
Erie-Prophetstown (430), West Carroll (444), Galena (450), host Lena-Winslow/Pearl City (451), and Riverdale (467) rounded out the team standings.
Jenna French led Eastland with a 91, good for runner-up individually. French shot nine-hole scores of 46 and 45, keeping her round together despite steady wind gusts throughout the day.
“The wind was a big problem for me. My drives were going whichever way the wind was blowing,” French said. “I hit it pretty high, so sometimes I had to club up or down. I also hit into the wind so it doesn’t push my ball.”
Ashley Janssen stepped up with 93 out of the fourth spot in the Cougars’ lineup, finishing in third place overall.
“In the morning I was kind of nervous, but I started feeling better once I was playing,” Janssen said. “My drives were going much straighter than normal, and my putting was really good. I made a lot of putts that saved par.”
Reigning NUIC co-champion Emma Norton (99) and Shelby Beyers (105) provided Eastland’s other counting scores. The Cougars advanced to sectionals in 2016 after a regional at Wolf Hollow, but lost a scorecard playoff to third-place East Dubuque last year. French and Norton advanced to sectionals in 2017 as individuals, but missing out on team advancement served as motivation for the reigning NUIC champions.
“I was one stroke short of making it to sectionals as an individual last year,” Janssen recalled. “I knew this year we had to go as a team.”
Emily Hartman finished fourth overall with 94 for West Carroll, securing a spot at sectionals with 42 on the back nine – a score which ties a career low. Hannah Guilinger qualified for sectionals for the second straight year with career-best 105. Sam Knight (113) and Corey Johnston (132) also competed for the Thunder.
Stockton’s Tiana Timpe, the other NUIC co-champion, also qualified for sectionals with a score of 95. Sydney Monks was Pearl City/LeWin’s lone sectional qualifier, and the last to make the cut, with a score of 107.
Cougar boys move on: Eastland finished third at the Class 1A Galena Regional held at the Galena Golf Club.
The Cougars had a 356 team total, behind only Galena (332) and Winnebago (335).
Counting scores for Eastland were turned in by Kellen Henze (81), Kaden Henze (88), Riley Stover (92) and Brock Coatney (95).
Stockton was fifth (372), Pearl City/Le-Win was 10th (419) and West Carroll was tied for 11th (421).
Four-time NUIC champion Alex Staver of Stockton missed out on a regional championship, finishing one stroke behind Winnebago’s Marcus Smith, 69-70.
Deacon Hill was West Carroll’s lone qualifier, carding an 88.
(Sectional play was Monday. Results from sectionals and the weekend’s state final meets will be published in the Oct. 17 Prairie Advocate.)