Sandburg looks to improve on last year’s state performance

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Sandburg coach Todd Allen was impressed by the 310 his team posted Monday at the Class AA Lincoln-Way Central Sectional. It was the Eagles’ best score of the season, the second-place finish sending them back to the state tournament for the second year in a row.

The 310 wasn’t the only number that stood out. Allen pointed to the 83 carded by Erin Cronin, which Sandburg didn’t even use when adding up its four best scores.

“That’s a testament to our depth,” Allen said. “With having all the girls back from last year, I’m not surprised with anybody’s play because I saw what they did in the offseason.”

Sandburg put in the work and it’s paying off. Led by Frankie Saban and Emily Cosler, the Eagles were the top team in the Southland from beginning to end. Now they’ll look to build on their 11th-place showing at state last season.

“One of the team goals we set at the beginning of the year was to improve on the finish from last year,” Allen said. “Being our first time down at state, we were maybe a little overwhelmed and didn’t play up to our capabilities.

“This time, we should be much more comfortable. We played a practice round at the state site (Hickory Point in Decatur) a few weeks ago. We’re much more familiar with the course and everything that goes along with being at state.”

It helps to have the undeviating scores of Saban and Cosler atop the lineup. Saban, a Bradley recruit, tied for fifth in the 112-player sectional at The Sanctuary with an even-par 72. At regionals, Cosler was the medalist with an even-par 71.

“Frankie being a four-year starter sets the tone for us,” Allen said, “but it’s the depth and all the girls that contribute that I’m most proud of.”

Emilyee McGiles, a sophomore, added an 80 and Patty Meza had an 81 to round out Sandburg’s sectional round. Reilly Scanlon also is capable of getting into the scoring mix for the Eagles.

Sandburg and the rest of the field will take a practice round Thursday before diving into the two-day tournament, which ends Saturday.

The Southland hasn’t had an individual state champion since Homewood-Flossmoor’s Emily Gilley won back-to-back titles in 1996-97, but this season looks like the area’s best chance in the last few years.

Lincoln-Way West’s Alexis Biedrzycki (Michigan State), T.F. South’s Maggie Sloan (Loyola) and Lincoln-Way East’s Kelly Sterling (Illinois-Chicago) all have state experience to make a run.

Biedrzycki finished fourth as a sophomore, Sloan was 12th last season and Sterling has never finished lower than 29th in her previous three trips to state.

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