Maggie Russell has one shot.Not on the golf course. The DeKalb sophomore has honed a diverse game with accuracy off the tee, solid ball striking and a short game that allowed her to save strokes and lower her scores this fall.
When it comes to competition, Russell competes with the DeKalb boys frosh/soph team against other boys teams. But, against girls, she has just one chance in the survive-and-advance format of regionals.
When she shot a 92 at Sycamore Golf Club in the Class 2A Burlington Central Regional, Russell became a two-time sectional qualifier and is the 2013 Daily Chronicle Girls Golfer of the Year. An accolade that will motivate her this offseason and at summer tournaments.
“I have to continue to refine my short game,” Russell said. “I worked a lot on putting and chipping. I also want to work on my club selection and be confident my distances are dialed in. The playoffs are definitely my time to shine and show what I can do. That’s when it really matters.”
Because Russell plays on the boys’ frosh/soph team throughout the season, she plays a longer golf course from the men’s white tees. The extra distance further challenges Russell to add distance off the tee.
“Playing against the boys helps me to get stronger,” Russell said. “It pushes me to get longer off the tee. I have to have distance playing from a set of tees farther back.”
The experience Russell gained in Illinois Junior Golf Association, Midwest Junior Golf Tour and IHSA events has steadied her nerves. The big-match atmosphere and intense competition will be on her calendar again this summer. Combined with near misses at sectionals the past two seasons, Russell is primed to qualify and make a run at the state meet.
“I know her goal is to make it to state,” DeKalb coach John Cordes said. “She had a double bogey on the last hole at sectionals. She’s close. A par would have earned her a spot at state or a spot in a playoff. She can even add a few more shots over the winter and summer that would help her get to state.”
2013 Daily Chronicle All-Area Girls Golf Team
Maggie Russell, so., DeKalb Two more years await Russell in her quest to become a state qualifier. She will continue to compete in summer tournaments and work with swing coach and former Northern Illinois women's coach Pam Tyska.
Delaney Bend, sr., Indian Creek A late-season scoring streak of low scores lasted through the playoffs as Bend qualified for sectionals.
McRaye Scheller, sr., Hinckley-Big Rock The transformation from concert violinist to No. 1 golfer was a "privilege" for coach Greg Jourdan to witness. "McRaye sought out the chance to compete with the other team's No. 1 player," Jourdan said. "She felt the passion and embraced the feeling that are associated with wanting to post a low score." Andrea Strohmaier, sr., Genoa-Kingston The Cogs will have to replace the top of their lineup next season. Strohmaier was a three-time sectional qualifier.
Katie Thurlby, sr., Genoa-Kingston Another three-time sectional qualifier will leave a void atop the G-K lineup next fall.
Sammy Bergstrand, sr., Indian Creek Sarah Howes, so., Genoa-Kingston Sophie Peters, so., Hinckley-Big Rock Taylor Prellberg, jr., Hinckley-Big Rock Kim Weissinger, so., Hinckley-Big Rock
– James Nokes, email@example.com