Margaret Hickey and Blake Yaccino played on last year’s Loyola girls golf team that placed second at the Class AA state tournament.
Both players said this season’s team is better in some ways.
Although the Ramblers don’t have a standout like Isabelle Kane, a 2014 graduate who tied for second at the state tournament and now plays at Dartmouth, they have a more balanced lineup. That was evident Saturday when Loyola won both of the tournaments it entered.
“We all can have days where we play really well,” said Hickey, a sophomore. “Last year, we relied on one really low score, but this year we have five or six girls who can shoot around the same number.”
At their own invitational at Willow Glen Golf Club in North Chicago, the Ramblers finished first with a 321. Hickey and Yaccino, a junior, each shot 78, while junior Nicole Wetoska carded an 81 and freshman Nina Rutkowski posted an 84. Loyola, which has no seniors in its top six, beat runner-up Glenbrook North by 37 strokes.
Over at Highland Park’s invitational at Sunset Valley Golf Club, a team of Ramblers shot 344 to win. Junior Madison Banas, junior Megan Mitchell, sophomore Colleen Huffman and sophomore Kellie McCabe all shot 86s.
“The difference between us and a lot of teams is we can go down to our sixth player at times,” said Loyola coach Jim Jackimiec, who led the Ramblers to the program’s best-ever finish in 2013. “Most teams are scratching for a fourth score. Everybody we put out there has the ability to play well. We can count on all of them.”
Saturday’s wins were Loyola’s second and third in five 18-hole tournaments. The Ramblers also won St. Viator’s invitational Sept. 13 at Deerfield Golf Club, and they’ve been second in the other two.
Yaccino — one of the team’s three-year varsity players, along with Wetoska — has been the low Ramblers golfer in three of her four tournaments. Hickey was best on the team at St. Viator and tied Yaccino for team honors Saturday. Just as importantly, the Ramblers haven’t used a score worse than 86 in all five tournaments.
Loyola starts postseason play Wednesday at its own Class AA regional at Glencoe Golf Club. The sectional tournament at Bittersweet Golf Club in Gurnee is Oct. 13.
“Our balance is our strength,” Yaccino said. “That is why I think we can do better than last year.”