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Girls golf season preview: Nicole Wetoska, Blake Yaccino and Margaret Hickey to lead Loyola

08/15/2014, 11:45am CDT
By Matt Harness and Eric Van Dril | For Sun-Times Media | @harnesspreps and @VanDrilSports

The time looks right for the Niles West golf program's move to varsity.

Loyola’s Blake Yaccino

In this Oct. 9, 2013, photo, Loyola’s Blake Yaccino competes at the Class AA Glenbrook South Regional at the Glenview Park Golf Club. | File

In two decades leading the Loyola girls golf team, Jim Jackimiec had never experienced a season like last year.

The Ramblers took second place in Class AA in 2013 — the best-ever finish in program history — and Isabelle Kane tied for second as an individual. However, Jackimiec said he expects the team to be near the top of the state every year.

“My personal mantra is to not just be good one season, but to be good every season,” said Jackimiec, who’s taken teams to the state tournament six of the last seven seasons.

Loyola graduated three of its best players from a year ago in Katie Boesen, Taylor Gentzkow and Kane — who is scheduled to play at Dartmouth — but the Ramblers aren’t without talent on their roster. Junior Nicole Wetoska, junior Blake Yaccino and sophomore Margaret Hickey all have played on varsity in previous seasons.

Jackimiec said he sees Hickey as a potential No. 1 player in his lineup. As a freshman, she posted the third-best score on the team at the state tournament and finished 30th.

“We are going to miss Isabelle, Katie and Taylor, for sure, but we are going to be good,” Jackimiec said. “We have enough experience back, and we have a boatload of girls who are really good players. But we will have to see who will step up into those other positions.”

New Trier

New Trier coach Scott Fricke said it’s rare for the Trevians to lose both of their best players to graduation in the same year.

That happened with the departure of Lexi Salberg and Julia Schuham, but the Trevians will welcome back four of six from last year’s team that took fourth in Class AA.

What’s more, Fricke said junior Louise McCulloch could end up being one of the best players to ever play for him. Among the Trevians, she had the second-lowest total at last year’s state tournament and tied for 31st.

“She’s put in so much time this summer, and she’s brimming with confidence,” Fricke said. “She’s a great ball-striker with a great touch on the putting green. Her short game has come on. She’s always had the tools, but it was about getting the repetitions and experience.”

Seniors Lauren Holly, Becca Lindblad and Lois Suh also were in the lineup on the final weekend of the season a year ago. Suh, a four-year varsity player, was on the team that won the Class AA state title in 2012. 

Fricke said senior Lauren Sigurtson will figure into the mix for a starting position.

Glenbrook North

After two successful seasons on varsity, junior Amy Hong is looking to make the next step.

The next frontier for Hong is to play at the state tournament. Her older sister, Ashley Hong, tied for 34th in Class AA as a senior in 2012. Last year, Amy Hong got as far as the sectional tournament. She also finished second in the CSL tournament.

Sophomore Emma Vickery will be another headliner for the Spartans after playing in the sectional tournament as a freshman. Other players competing for lineup spots this season will be senior Talia Dechter and sophomore Ana Sabic, according to Glenbrook North coach Mike Schroeder.

Evanston

Senior Peggy Giordano, junior CeCe Hansen and junior Liz Jolie all ranked as the team’s top players a year ago. Seniors Tina Giordano and Sophia Kihm also got time in the varsity lineup last season.

Glenbrook South

The Titans are expected to return two players who teed it up at the sectional tournament in junior Arina Kim and sophomore Hannah Buchband.

Niles West

The Niles West girls golf program fielded only a junior varsity team last year, but the Wolves will play varsity this season. 

Juniors Sara Dym, Katrina Nickell and Kristin Recinto were three of Niles West’s five JV golfers last year, and they’re all expected back. 

Their skill level and potential are big reasons why Niles West coach Rich Lee believes this is the right moment to transition to varsity. 

“With the three girls going from sophomore to junior year, I thought the timing would be good for us,” Lee said. 

“It may be a little bit early, but I wanted to at least get my junior players some additional competition at the higher level and also try to get them a little bit more exposure [to college suitors] that they may not have gotten at the junior varsity level.”

Lee is hopeful the Wolves can be competitive immediately. Niles West finished second behind New Trier at the Central Suburban League’s JV conference tournament a year ago, and talented sophomore Amanda Lee — she is Rich Lee’s daughter and former Niles West standout Nate Lee’s sister — is expected to join the squad after taking a hiatus from golf.

Maine South

The Maine South girls golf team will be one of the most experienced in the state, with five seniors returning.

The Hawks are the defending CSL co-champions and hope to advance downstate with a lineup headlined by seniors Leia Atas, Katie Krall and Annie Krall. Having such an experienced squad figures to lessen Maine South coach Jeff Hamann’s responsibilities.

Hamann said the program’s seniors, including Marissa Oshona and Tina Piarowski, will be role models for its younger players.

“I’ll be able to split people up into groups, so the seniors will be able to take the leadership [responsibility] when we do our stations in practice,” Hamann said. “I’m looking forward to kind of giving them ownership with a lot of things — specifically practice, leadership roles when it comes to sportsmanship and how to play the game properly with etiquette, and then of course team bonding. It’s just going to be a great year with those five seniors.”

Maine East, Ridgewood and Niles North

Ridgewood’s Sabrina Bonanno, Niles North’s Quynh Nguyen and Maine East’s Colleen Scholz were members of their schools’ boys teams a year ago, but only Scholz, a senior, has eligibility remaining.

Bonanno, who won a Class A state title in 2012, is playing golf at Arkansas-Little Rock. Nguyen received the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship earlier this year, and will attend Purdue.

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