There's no question both the Mercer County and Rockridge girls' golf teams will head south to today's Class A Lincoln Sectional with high hopes of securing their first state team berths.|
But at the same time, Golden Eagles' coach Aaron Heartt and Rockets' coach Mike Orr are realistic about just how tall an order that will be at a sectional Heartt describes as "one of the toughest in the state.''
Heartt, who coached Aledo to three straight regional team titles from 2006-08 before coaching Mercer County to its first such crown last Wednesday at the Kewanee Regional, points to such teams as Macomb, which scored a 343 to win its own regional, and Rochester, which won the Greenview Regional with a 345. Additionally, Hamilton Regional winner Quincy Notre Dame carded a 357, compared to the 391 the Eagles shot to best Rockridge (413) at Kewanee.
"Those teams are playing some good golf right now,'' said Heartt. "It's a tough sectional with a lot of good teams, but obviously we are shooting (to advance) from a team persepective. We'll put in a couple of good practice days to get ourselves ready to go (today).''
Orr, who coached Rockridge to a 2009 regional title and shared a regional crown with Prophetstown last fall, also hopes a little extra practice makes perfect for his team.
"Getting a practice round in down there will hopefully give us a fighting chance,'' Orr said, "but just based on what I know about `A' golf around the state, I'd say we've drawn the toughest sectional. I don't know if we'll have an opportunity team-wise, but I'm hoping for that, especially for our three seniors, Sydney Kilcoin, Jenna Stone and Kaitlyn Robison. They've put a lot into this program.''
Leafs seek state return; Prophets seek history: It has been almost 25 years since a Geneseo girls' golf team booked a state golfing weekend. 1988 was the last time for the Lady Leafs, capping a successful decade for the program that saw the Leafs qualify four out of five years between '84 and '88.
Now, with a youthful squad led by freshman standout Monica Lieving, who shot a 92 to place among the top 5 at last Wednesday's Rock Falls Regional, Geneseo hopes to have the potential for a state return. If it's not today for coach Julie Frels' club at the Genoa-Kingston Sectional, then definitely in the near future, as the bulk of its roster consists of freshmen and sophomores.
But for a veteran Prophetstown team led by the senior duo of regional champion Molly Corbin (89 at Rock Falls) and Annie Sandrock (90), the future is now. The Lady Prophets hope to cap what has been a tremendously successful two-year run by securing the first state appearance for any Prophetstown golf team.
"I thought we'd be very competitive this season with six seniors, four of whom have played varsity all four years,'' said Prophetstown coach Kelly Siltman. "They put in a lot of time last summer; all of them have pros they work with, and they played in tourneys and put in a lot of work, and it's paid off.''
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