Danielle Smith leans on veteran experience to lead Hinsdale Central golfers

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WOODRIDGE — Danielle Smith is the only senior on the Hinsdale Central girls golf team, which many consider a favorite for the Class AA state championship later this month.

After finishing third last season, the Red Devils will be counting on Smith to lead a young and talented squad to another state trophy.

“It’s sad that the year is ending, but it has been fun all four years. It has been really, really fun,” Smith said.

On Tuesday, Hinsdale Central (322) captured its seventh consecutive WSC title and 14th overall at Village Greens of Woodridge. The Devils’ top four scorers, led by sophomore medalist Maria Harrast (79), all placed in the top five. Sophomores Selina Zeng (80) and Jessica Lee (81) came in second and fourth, respectively.

Smith, whose family belongs to Medinah, shot an 87. She is the team’s only senior, since Layne Woodward moved to North Carolina before the school year.

Although Smith isn’t a team captain, Latorre relies on her to lead. The Hinsdale resident helps organize the team pasta parties and runs the putting contests during practice at Ruth Lake Country Club.

“Danielle is a great example of always being positive whether we play well or not,” junior Erin Bruns said. “She oversees our team activities.”

Smith also enjoys helping younger students acclimate to high school. She is the treasurer of the Ambassador Club, which helps newcomers adjust with field trips and breakfasts. She joined the club on the suggestion of former JV girls golf coach Jim McGuire.

For a school-sponsored webcast Thursday at York Tavern, coach Nick Latorre and Hinsdale Central boys golf coach Jess Krueger will sit for an interview. Smith was the lone team member who Latorre invited to make a guest appearance.

“She has been a very positive influence on all the young girls,” Latorre said. “She has the ability to bring the girls together for the last two years. We have very good chemistry.”

Smith started becoming serious about golf while in the eighth grade. She decided to work harder on her game in the offseason after she watched Prospect accept last year’s state championship trophy.

“That made me want to practice more as a team,” Smith said. “This is a really good team. We have to stay focused.”

Hinsdale Central’s bid to return to the state meet begins Wednesday at the Hinsdale South Regional at Prairie Bluff in Lockport.

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