CRETE – You know a high school golfer is good when she shoots 68 and says at the scoring table that it wasn’t a great round.
Meet Brianne Bolden, the Missouri-bound senior from Lincoln-Way Central. She fired a 3-under-par 68 on Wednesday to lead the Knights to the Class 2A Marian Catholic Regional title at Lincoln Oaks Golf Course in Crete, and saw room for improvement.
After a 66 at last week’s conference meet and a 67 at a weekend invite, it’s clear Bolden is a tough judge.
That mindset is among the reasons the Knights are so good.
Fellow senior Grace Curran, the Class 2A champion as a sophomore whose next stop is Minnesota, scored 1-under 70. Carly Schiene and Maddie Pyle – who didn’t play golf until eighth grade – scored 76 and 77, respectively. Their four scores set the team total of 7-over-par 291 on the 5,389-yard course.
Lincoln-Way East, led by freshman Kailey White’s career-best 78, took second with a 333. Oak Forest was the final qualifier for Monday’s sectional at Prairie Bluff in Lockport with 403, 112 strokes in back of the Knights.
How deep is Lincoln-Way Central? Caitlyn Parrish’s 82 and Sydney Miron’s 83 would have counted for any other team and led all but East, and Parrish, with a hole-in-one on the eighth hole, achieved via a 117-yard downwind 9-iron, would have been the toast of the team.
With the Knights, she’s just another player. So are Bolden and Curran, who statistically are No. 1 and 1A, trading the top spot regularly.
“Since conference, where we tied the record, everyone’s really bringing it,” said Bolden, who tied for second individually in Decatur last year. “We really want it this year.”
It being a state title, which has so far eluded the Knights. They finished sixth last year.
“I’m really excited to give it one more run,” Bolden said. “If I play to my potential, I definitely have a good shot.”
Curran is as calm on the course as Bolden is mercurial, but gets similar results.
“The team chemistry is through the roof,” Curran said. “We have the best time preparing for [tournaments], riding to them, and once we get here we know it’s go time, and we’re super-focused and motivated to get the job done.”
Many teams are that way, but Central makes it happen week after week.
“They worked really hard last summer, and that helps through the year, because you can’t practice as much,” coach Brian Shannon said. “It really is about how many hours you put in in the offseason.”
The high school offseason is the summer, which is the big season for junior golf, and with the Knights all involved in summer competition, practice is competition, which hones their mental edge.
“As much as they all love each other, they’re trying to be the best,” Shannon said. “They’re just used to that competition.”
Bolden birdied three straight holes in the middle of the front nine, as well as the par-5 ninth, to go out in 4-under 33. She had a 1-over 35 on the back nine, missing birdie putts of no more than five feet on the 16th and 18th.
Along with White’s 78, the Griffins used Jessica Loera’s 82, Madeline Herbert’s 86 and Natalie Papa’s 87 to advance. Grace Wilk (89) and Samantha Bollman (93) also were in the lineup.
“We’ve played a lot of these teams, and to finish second, that was our goal,” East coach Mary McGivern said. “Central, they just reload. Kailey and Natalie have had strong freshman seasons. Kailey’s been super-consistent all year. To see her break into the 70s solidifies that she’s only getting better.”