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Kaneland golf's studies pay off with trip to state

MAPLE PARK - The Kaneland boys golf team wants to be prepared, even if its best laid plans sometimes get put on hold.

Last year the Knights took advantage of an early-season tournament in Peoria to play a practice round at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State University in Normal; the site of the IHSA Class 2A state tournament.

A return trip to Weibring didn't take place in 2011 when the Knights bowed out in regionals. Ironically, this fall Weibring had an outing and Kaneland couldn't get on the course. But a third-place finish at the Belvidere North Sectional last Monday guaranteed the Knights would get in their round at Weibring today as qualifiers at the Class 2A state tournament.

"In 2011 we played Weibring and I told the team this is where we want to be at the end of the year," Kaneland coach Mark Meyer said. "It will be fun to see the course again at the state tournament."

Like a team full of architects, the Knights meticulously draft their pre-round plans before a competitive tee shot is ever struck. At a practice round yesterday, Kaneland didn't even use the hole when it putted.

Instead the Friday and Saturday dots which mark the pin position occupied their time on the greens. Senior captain Connor Williams took out his mini-flip notebook and recorded which way the greens move and where the slopes are. It's a resource he referred to frequently at the Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference meet and at sectionals.

The preparation and confidence - Kaneland followed up its third consecutive conference title with a win at the Class 2A Sycamore regional - has the Knights peaking at the right time.

"It meant a lot to make it to state," Williams said. "We really ground it out after a midseason slump. But we got hot at the right time. We are at state now and feel like we've got to just go for it."

Class 1A Girls Golf

It was all about body and mind synchronization.

Three days a week, Emily Wakeley attended the Genoa-Kingston bigger, faster and stronger offseason training camp. The strength difference has allowed her to hit shots father than ever before.

Wakeley combined her improved physique with a steadfast attitude, hardened by three previous years of prep competition to become the first G-K girls golfer to qualify for the state championships.

She tees off at 9:24 a.m. today at Red Tail Run Golf Course in Decatur.

Even 30-mile-per-hour wind gusts at the Class 1A G-K regional last Monday couldn't deter the determined senior.

"On No. 17 she striped a drive right down the middle of the fairway," said G-K Athletic Director Dirk Campbell, who had already served as an observer and made his way to watch Wakeley's final four holes. "She put her driver away, looked at me and said, 'dude.'

"She's so consistent and stronger now because she put in big-time work in the summer."

When Wakeley was called to the medal stand, the hours of training with a swing coach and sweating in the gym poured out.

"It was so overwhelming to be the first G-K girls golfer to go to state," Wakeley said. "It just blew my mind. When Mr. Campbell announced my name I had a huge smile on my face and just started to cry. It's my senior year, now that I qualified, I want to go to state and have fun."

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