CHAMPAIGN — Ainsley Winters could have psyched herself out.The Mahomet-Seymour junior could have opened up the IHSA golf scoring application in her phone to see how she was faring early in Thursday’s Class 1A St. Thomas More Regional at Lincolnshire Fields Country Club.And she could have learned STM senior Brooke Erhard had jumped out to a multi-stroke lead during a first six holes that included an eagle and a birdie.
“Normally, I’m glued to it,” Winters said. “But (Thursday) I didn’t (look), because I could feel I was doing pretty well.”Well enough to become a regional champion.Winters recorded two birdies and six pars over her final 10 holes en route to the individual title, with her 3-over 75 edging out Erhard’s 77 for medalist distinction.“I’m just really honored to be the champion of a regional,” Winters said. “My continuous work has been paying off. … I thought I would definitely be in the top 10, but I had no feeling that I was going to be the champion at all.”No one else truly contended with Winters and Erhard for that honor. The regional’s No. 3 score was an 89 from Paris junior Kaitlyn Coombes.“It’s definitely my best performance,” Winters said. “I tried to take my time and look over each of my shots and … put myself in good places on the course and in a good position to have a good next shot.”Winters’ performance paced the Bulldogs to an easy regional team championship, as well. M-S’s cumulative 370 score far outpaced runner-up Paris’ 410 in the five-team field.This marked the Bulldogs’ first regional victory as a group since 2014.
“I’m ecstatic with my team. I’m so proud of my team,” Winters said. “I could tell (my teammates) were a little jittery. A lot of them, it was their first time to be in such a big tournament where it meant so much.”M-S junior Kayla McKinney came closest to Winters with a fifth-place 92. Junior Emma Dallas gave the Bulldogs another sub-100 total by carding a 10th-place 99.Winters and her cohorts now will look forward to Monday’s Class 1A Auburn Sectional, to be conducted at Edgewood Golf Club.“If we play at our best, I feel like we might have a chance to get to the state level as a team,” Winters said. “That would be amazing. I don’t even know what we would do. We would all be so ecstatic (that) I don’t think we could sleep for days.”Blue Ridge also moved on to the sectional round as a team, notching a 468 cumulative total that pushed the Knights seven strokes clear of fourth-place Monticello. Blue Ridge was paced by senior Ashlyn Voyles (101, 11th place) and freshman Lillian Enger (103, 13th).Beyond Erhard, nine other local individuals also qualified for sectional play from this regional: Tuscola juniors Makenna Fiscus (91) and Marley Good (98); Salt Fork sophomore Amelia Birge (93); Monticello senior Tori Taylor (97); STM freshman Ashley Wells (102); Fisher junior Mikaela Kelley (103); Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley junior Halie Heinz (104); LeRoy sophomore Lauren Bossingham (109); and Hoopeston Area senior Payton Armstrong (113).Class 2A Quincy RegionalQUINCY — Champaign Central junior Reese Phillips shot a 98 at Westview Golf Course on Thursday, allowing her to advance to the sectional round.
Phillips, who finished tied for 25th in the regional, next will compete in Monday’s Class 2A Washington Sectional at Quail Meadows Golf Course.The Maroons ranked sixth in the regional’s six-team field with a 434 cumulative score.Class 1A St. Teresa RegionalFORSYTH — Three local athletes moved on individually from Thursday’s regional action at Hickory Point Golf Course.Clinton freshman Carley Earle, Maroons sophomore Sarah Mills and Sullivan freshman Shaelyn Ellis each earned a spot in Monday’s Class 1A Auburn Sectional at Edgewood Golf Club. Earle carded a 95 to tie for 14th place in the regional, Mills shot 96 to place 16th and Ellis fired a 100 to tie for 21st.Sullivan (437) ranked seventh and Clinton (447) placed ninth in the 11-team field.Class 1A Chillicothe IVC RegionalEDELSTEIN — Prairie Central’s dynamic duo of junior Ella Compton and senior Kenna Skaggs will represent the program in the postseason’s sectional round.The two advanced individually from Thursday’s regional at Arrowhead Country Club. Compton recorded an 88 that tied her for ninth place, and Skaggs shot a 93 that ranked her in 16th overall.
The pair of Hawks next will play in Monday’s Class 1A Geneseo Sectional, held at Kewanee Dunes Golf Course in Kewanee.Prairie Central finished fifth in the 12-team regional with a 387 score.Class 1A Seneca RegionalMORRIS — Iroquois West came up just a bit short of advancing as a team to the sectional round, but three of the Raiders were able to move on individually from Thursday’s regional.Junior Adelynn Scharp led that trio by shooting a 93 at Nettle Creek Golf Course and placing seventh overall. IW seniors Destiny Thomas and McKinley Tilstra also moved on, with the former carding a 105 and the latter a 106.Watseka also advanced one player to Monday’s Class 1A Aurora Sectional at Phillips Park Golf Course. Sophomore Layla Holohan recorded a 105 to book her individual sectional berth.IW ranked fourth as a team in the nine-team field, with the Raiders’ 432 total putting them 10 strokes behind No. 3 squad Sandwich. Watseka finished fifth with a 446 total.