Naperville North wins Marian Invite; Naperville Central impresses

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Marist’s Ashley Kay and Sam Smith made it a successful premier Monday for new coach Jim Barker at the 14-team Marian Catholic Invitational.

The RedHawks finished third at Coyote Run in Flossmoor with a 360 for their best showing in the tournament. Marist cut 22 strokes from its opening-day total of a season ago.

“It’s a good debut for the 2013 RedHawks,” Barker said. “The girls have been working really hard. I think we battled some nervousness early, but they settled down and came on strong.”

Kay led the RedHawks with a 13-over 84 and Smith had an 88. Kay finished eighth and notched the Closest to the Pin medal on the fifth hole, landing 11.5 feet from the cup.

“I’ve been sick, so it’s been a rough past few days, but I came out just firing away,” Kay said. “I think this showing really gives my girls some confidence in themselves, because we all need that.”

Naperville North blew away the competition with a 323. North’s Taylor Arenson garnered medalist honors with a round of 73. Naperville Central finished second with a 360 and Providence was just behind Marist in fourth at 364, thanks to an 85 from Alyssa Newling. Lincoln-Way East was fifth with a 374.

Marian’s Nina Nicpon and Kelly Sterling were the top performers from the Southtown area. Nicpon had four birdies and finished fourth with a 77.

“My drivers were working pretty well, but my short game was not on target,” Nicpon said, noting she hopes to qualify for state this season. “I think my driver and my irons made up for that in the long run.”

Sterling, a top-30 finisher in state the past two seasons, was fifth with a 79.

“I was all over the place,” Sterling said. “My driver just broke, so I was using my little brother’s. I mostly kept hitting it left.”

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