Young survives playoff to win girls golf regional for Lake Forest

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LAKE FOREST — It was minutes after the North Suburban Conference girls golf tournament ended on Sept. 30.

Before the tournament medalists — three of them Lake Forest Scouts — were announced, the honorary title of “Marlene Miller North Suburban Conference Individual Champion” was awarded. The name Marlene Miller is a familiar one in Lake Forest.

Miller retired this summer after a 37-year coaching career that included two state championships won with Lake Forest in 1996 and 1998.

“We had no clue they were going to do that. We were all screaming and cheering when we found out about it,” senior McKenna Shea said.

The 2014 Scouts dignified the award for their former coach the best way they knew how — by carding low scores and earning all-conference medals.

Junior Emily Young led the way with an 18-hole score of 82. Young finished two shots behind champion Simone Mikaelian of Libertyville and one back of runner-up Annette Yandall of Wauconda (81). Shea, whose round of 90 was good for eighth place, and sophomore Lena Benjakul (95, 15th) were the Scouts’ other all-conference winners.

Just like Miller, first-year coach Steve Johnson relies on Young to end rounds with a low number.

“[Young is] consistently our top scorer. For nine holes, in the mid-to-high 30s. If she hits 40, that’s a bad day,” Johnson said.

Young missed the state cut in 2013 after qualifying as a freshman. More reliant on control than power, she has a formula for advancing in this October’s state series.

“Not taking driver. I’ll take a hybrid or a six [iron] and say, ‘I’m going to give myself 120 yards into every green and play it safe and see how many pars I can get,’ ” Young said. “Stay away from the big numbers. Get your pars.”

That conservative strategy helped Young shoot a 76 at Wednesday’s Lake Forest Regional at Deerpath Golf Course. She won a one-hole playoff with Barrington’sReena Sulkar for medalist honors. Benjakul (90) also advanced to the sectional round as an individual as Lake Forest shot 388 to finish seventh as a team.

Part of the journey toward state began at the conference tournament.

Young, disappointed she finished just shy of winning the inaugural award named after Miller, said seeing her former coach receive such an honor was a moment she won’t soon forget.

“What she loved was being out there, watching the girls. And she loved conference,” Young said. “I think that was one of the sweetest things they could have done to remember her.”

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