ROCK FALLS – Rock Falls freshman Megan Fiorini didn’t quite have the storybook ending to her freshman season she was looking for, but in the big picture, the tale was a good one.
Fiorini carded a 6-over-par 78 to finish fifth overall on Tuesday at the Class 1A Rock Falls Sectional at Rock River Golf and Pool. The Rockets finished fourth as a team at the season-ending event; no state tournament will be played due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Fiorini started on No. 10 and had a 5-over-par 42 on the back nine, but bounced back with a 1-over-par 36 on the front nine, highlighted by a birdie on the par-5 second hole.
“I’m pretty disappointed in my first nine because my putting could have been a lot better,” Fiorini said. “But I tried to come back the best I could on my second nine, and my putting was better.”
A brisk wind out of the south wreaked havoc with the field, something that was always on Fiorini’s mind.
“I think the wind definitely made it tougher,” Fiorini said, “so I tried to play it safe and hit smart shots.”
Rock Falls had a 349 team score, behind only Rockford Boylan (344) and Macomb and Peoria Notre Dame (347 apiece).
Rounding out the Rockets’ lineup were Ellie Wasson (87, T-19), Lauren Tupper (91, 23rd), Taylor Brown (93, T-29), Madison Thatcher (98, T-39) and Brooke Danreiter (117, 62nd).
Better days could be ahead for the Rockets. Thatcher is the lone senior, Fiorini is a freshman, and the rest are juniors.
“I had one of the dads of my juniors point out to me that 2 years ago when these girls were freshmen, I said these girls were going to grow exponentially,” Rock Falls coach Deena Simester said. “He came up to me today and told me how right I was. I can only see that growth for next year, so I’m very excited to have five of my six girls back. Plus, I have some JV girls that aren’t here today and can fit right in.”
Dixon was fifth as a team with a 353. Rounding out the field were Winnebago (355), Kewanee (382) and Rockridge (397).
Leading the way for the Duchesses was Olivia Rick, who finished with an 81, good for a 4-way tie for eighth place. Rick’s round was highlighted by birdies on Nos. 2, 6 and 18.
“I think it was my irons,” Rick said. “My second shots were going good. I didn’t have to chip much, which is a downfall of mine. And my putting was excellent, better than ever.”
Rick also noted her game was suited for Tuesday’s high winds.
“I don’t really hit the ball high like most people,” Rick said, “so my low balls just fly through the wind, and the wind doesn’t really affect my shots.”
Katie Drew was next for the Duchesses with an 84, good for 14th place. One birdie was offset by three double bogeys.
“My chipping was off today, and some of my irons weren’t playing like I wanted them to,” Drew said. “You had to play it a little different with the wind today, and I just tried to correct what I could.”
Drew, a freshman, was the lone non-senior in the Dixon lineup.
“I came up here and this team is full of seniors, so there was some great leadership I had to learn from,” Drew said. “It was great to learn from these girls I played with.”
Bella Heintzelman, Dixon’s top player all season, struggled to an 86, good for a tie for 15th. Heintzelman had five double bogeys on her card, including three in a row (15-17) at the end of her round.
Olivia Brooks (102, T-45), Nina Baratta (109, T-55) and Lauren Fagan (112, 58th) rounded out the Dixon lineup.
Oregon’s Ava Hackman, the lone area individual to compete, finished in a tie for 33rd place after carding a 22-over-par 94.
Rochelle’s Megan Thiravong wrapped up a four-year career spent mostly competing against boys with a 4-over-par 76, good for third place. She birdied the 18th hole to conclude her round, but was undone by a quadruple-bogey 8 on the eighth hole and a double-bogey 5 on the 13th.
“I feel like I wasn’t focused on those two holes,” Thiravong said. “My positive mentality started to slip off the tee box. It’s just a mental mistake.”
Boylan’s Eva Greenberg and Macomb’s Lily Vardaman tied for low score with 75s. Greenberg then won a playoff with a par on the par-4 first hole.