Brianne Bolden and Grace Curran already have created quite a legacy for themselves regardless of what they do this weekend at the Class 2A girls golf state finals in Forsyth.
But the two Lincoln-Way Central seniors, who both have won individual state medals the past two years, would like to conclude their careers with a bang by capturing a third medal and helping their team to its first trophy for a top-three finish in the sport.
Curran was the state champion in 2016 and tied for fifth place last year, while Bolden was the state runner-up in 2017 and tied for 10th the year before. A year ago, they helped their team to their first sectional championship and their highest state showing, sixth place.
After winning their second straight sectional title, coach Brian Shannon’s Knights will rely on four others who also were on last year’s state team when they compete in the finals at Hickory Point Golf Club. They are juniors Maddie Pyle and Carly Schiene and sophomores Sydney Miron and Caitlyn Parrish.
“They do everything that I ask of them,” Shannon said. “We had many tournaments that were far away, and it’s not easy to get high school kids to do that, but they do it and do it well. I can’t stress enough how lucky and blessed that I am to be able to coach them. One of the biggest things that’s helped us this year is that Carly, Maddie, Sydney and Caitlyn have all stepped up their games in the offseason, and that gives Grace and Bri a little breathing room.
“Last year the first day at state was just a learning experience. With that course in Decatur that plays very long, you just have to learn to accept a par, and sometimes there are holes that if you bogey, you’re not losing shots on the field, so you can still put a decent round together. So it’s all about the consistency that we’ve had, and we just hope to keep it going.”
Bolden believes that if her team performs like it can, this weekend could be special.
“I think that it’s starting to become real to our team that if we all play to our potential that we can come home with a first-place trophy,” Bolden said. “That’s starting to sink in to us, and it’s definitely making us work and not take anything for granted. We’re definitely prepared because of the tournaments that we’ve played in all year. We have such a close relationship with each other on and off the golf course, so this weekend we’ll definitely have a lot of fun.”
Curran also is excited about what her team can achieve if the Knights turn in their best effort.
“Coach Shannon has been awesome in getting us in high-performance tournaments, and it’s been good that we’ve seen this competition, so we know what to expect once we get there,” Curran said. “We’re pretty much like a family. We’re the best of friends, and it’s always a good time, and we know how to have fun, but also be competitive. We’re all a little nervous, but they’re good nerves, since we’re excited and ready to see what we can do.”
Four other individuals from local schools also advanced to the Class 2A finals: Lemont senior Maggie Micetich, Joliet Township junior Maddy Palmer, Lockport freshman Lizzie Anderson and Lincoln-Way East freshman Kailey White. Micetich also advanced in 2015, while Palmer is back for the second year in a row.
One of the favorites to win the state title also is from the area, Benet Academy senior Lauren Beaudreau, who lives in Lemont. She shot a 68 to win the Hinsdale South Sectional title. Beaudreau, who did not play high school golf a year ago, placed fourth in 2015 and then took second in 2016 after finishing one stroke behind Curran.
In the Class 1A finals at Decatur’s Red Tail Run Golf Course, Providence Catholic advanced as a team. The Celtics feature seniors Ellie Bilotta, Kayla Ambrose, Catherine McErlean and Sarah Wedemeier and juniors Elizabeth Martello and Tori Sojka. Reed-Custer junior Amber Maddox also qualified. Bilotta was a state qualifier a year ago in Class 2A.