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St. Bede's Eustice qualifies for state

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(Photo contributed)
Princeton’s Sophia Suarez tries to keep her emotions in check on the final hole of Monday’s sectional at Gibson Woods Golf Course in Monmouth.

Sydney Eustice got a little chippy at the Gibson City 1A girls sectional golf meet Monday.

The St. Bede junior made three chip shots on the day, including a 140-yarder for a birdie on hole number 9 at Railside Golf Course. She finished with an 18-hole score of 84, good for sixth place to punch her ticket to Friday’s IHSA State finals at Red Tail Run Golf Course in Decatur.

“It feels very good. I can hardly believe it,” Eustice said. “I had three birdie chip-in shots, that helped me a lot. I also had another birdie on top of that.”

The funny thing, she wouldn’t consider her chipping game one of her strengths.

“That’s not normal for me at all,” she said.

St. Bede coach Rich Cummings said Eustice was the talk of the golf course. He was able to see her gem on number 9 and said when he saw it hit the green once, “I knew it was in.”

The chip-in on number 9 seemed to energize Eustice, who added birdie chips on number 13 and 14 to come in with a 41 on the back nine.

“I got off to a rocky start on the front, but then I was able to figure everything out and I got through it and I ended up doing a great job,” she said.

There were four local teams with a total of 31 individuals competing in IHSA sectional golf meets scattered around four sites across Illinois. Eustice was the lone area qualifier.

“I’m going to use it as learning experience, because I’m just going to play like I did (Monday) and don’t have any pressure and do my best and see what happens,” she said.

As a team, the Lady Bruins carded a 417 to place eighth in the 12-team field. Scorers for St. Bede included Gabby Mendoza (100), Tess Montez (114) and Aiko Mendoza (119). Also competing for St. Bede were Rachel Cessna (132) and Taylor Hamer (146).

Putnam County placed sixth as a team at 401, led by Stephanie Wilson’s 92, who missed the cut by one stroke. Also scoring for PC were Carly Gonet (96), Monica Monroe (103) and Tara Doyle (110).

Mercedes Ruiz of DePue shot a 109.

Meet medalist was Ashley Miller of Mount Zion at 76. Third place Charleston secured the final team spot at 392

At Monmouth: The Princeton Tigresses made their second straight sectional appearance, finishing 11th of 12 teams at Monday’s Monmouth 1A Sectional at Gibson Woods Golf Course, scoring a team total of 417. Rochester (362) was the sectional champion.

“The girls played their hearts out, and I am extremely proud of the way they played and acted yesterday and throughout the season,” PHS coach Will Gross said. “We shot 494 last year at sectionals and this year were able to compete at this level, we just came up short.”

Junior Sophia Suarez led the Tigresses with a round of 95. She was in contention until ending with two triple bogeys sandwiched around a double.

“She was still able to manage a very respectable 95, which shows her heart, desire and commitment to her success,” Gross said. “She was poised, focused and aggressive, and it payed off. She left with the realization that she can compete at this level and believes that she can achieve all her goals next year.”

Also on the PHS card were Audra Reidner (103), Arraia Hicks (104), Julie Miller (115) and Sarah Crowe (124).

Morgan Savage of Rochester claimed medalist honors with a 73. It took an 86 to advance.

Boys golf

At Byron: Hall junior Ryan Ott and Bureau Valley’s Ryan Young led area golfers with a round of 90 in the Byron 1A Sectional at Prairie Vied Golf Course. An 83 was needed to qualify.

The Hall Red Devils had a tough day as a team, finishing 12th at 386. Winnetka North Shore Country Day (311) was sectional champ with Byron (315) and Stockton (320) also advancing.

“It was not our best day. Overall we had a very good year,” Hall coach Tom Bauer said. Bauer said Ott played well on a tough course with slick greens. Seniors Nick Scheri and Pete Mautino shot 96s in their final appearance for the Red Devils. Also contributing for Hall were Aaron Mitchell (104), Matt Hoscheid (105) and Zach Vanderpool (115).

Also failing to advance were Bureau Valley senior Logan Twidell (94), St. Bede junior Joe Dudek (87) and sophomore Jarret Olson (91) and Putnam County’s Mitch Aimone (94).

At Freeport: Princeton’s trio of Zach Hicks (84), Colby Robbins (87) and Ian “Shorty” Nichols (88) were unable to qualify from the 2A sectional at Park Hills Golf Course. A 78 was needed to advance. Ryan Dixon of Dixon was medalist at 71.

PHS coach Duane Price said though he came up short, Hicks played well.

“He hit the ball well, kept the ball in play most of the round and grinded until his final putt. He struggled with his putter on a few holes and had some strokes he wishes he could get back, but, as I told him, all players have what-ifs,” Price said.

The Tiger coach said Nichols and Robbins did their best to “simply hold on” through a “brutal stretch” on holes 12-16.

“After their turns, both of them settled in, both in terms of their games and innate sectional jitters,” he said. “They having promising futures for our program next year, and both have potential to be dueling for the best players in the area if they put in constructive work on their games this offseason.”

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