Girls golfer qualifies for state
For the past three seasons, Michelle Zhang, ‘19, has qualified for the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Sectionals for girls’ golf through her team winning Regionals. Each time, she has not advanced to State.
But that changed last Monday, when Conant hosted sectionals at Fox Run Golf Links in Elk Grove. Zhang finally advanced to State as an individual golfer, finishing in the top 10 for individuals who were on non-qualifying teams for State by scoring an 84.
“Last year — I guess I was close and I had the ability to make it, but it feels really great to be able to go this year,” Zhang said, who added that this season she felt a lot calmer and didn’t let her nerves get to her as they have had in previous seasons.
Head girls’ golf coach Megan Hebert said, “Michelle has been an extremely hard worker over the past four years to get to this point. She has played in countless summer tournaments, taken private lessons, and overall works hard at practice each day.”
Her teammates are proud of her. Alyssa Brand, ‘19, said, “It’s amazing. I am so proud of Michelle because she’s been working so hard these past four years, and she’s been so close to making [State] every single year, and I’m finally glad that she got it.”
The road for Zhang will end in Decatur at the Hickory Point Golf Club. The two day competition starts on Friday, and the only way Zhang can qualify for Saturday is if she has one of the top 24 individual scores of players that are on teams that did not qualify for the second day of the tournament. If Zhang finishes in the top 10 of all individuals on Saturday, she will win a medal.
Zhang said, “Honestly at this point I’m just happy I made it. I’m just going to go out there and have some fun.”
The girls’ golf team, which has won Regionals the past four seasons, missed qualifying for State by one place last Monday, finishing fourth with a score of 366, 26 points behind the third place team.
Hebert said, “I am thrilled that our team finished fourth place at Sectionals. I think this is our highest finish ever in our program. Last year I believe we got fifth. It definitely helped having the ‘home course’ advantage yesterday. All of the girls played great rounds on a tough course with very wet conditions.”
As common with other teams, this season’s girls’ golf team will lose key members of their team after this season, as four of the six girls that competed on Monday are seniors.
“Our seniors will not be able to be replaced, but they have done a great job of helping to build our program to be one of the most respected in our area. I hope that our younger girls will see how hard the seniors have worked over their four years to improve, and that they will use the spring and summer to improve their games so we are ready for next fall,” Hebert said.