Although Loyola lost its No. 1 player from a team that finished eighth in Class AA, the Ramblers possibly are a stronger this year, according to head coach Carli McKenney.
Gone is Nina Rutkowski, a four-year varsity veteran who shot Loyola’s low round at the Class AA state tournament and Wheaton Academy Sectional. She played at three state tournaments, tying for 13th as both a freshman and sophomore. Rutkowski ended her prep career with a tie for 30th at last year’s state tournament.
But back are seniors Lilly Gentzkow and Shea Graf and juniors Mary Boesen and Grace Kryscio. Gentzkow, an Iowa commit, and Graf are team captains. All four were in the postseason lineup last season. Boesen tied for 51st, Kryscio tied for 69th, Gentzkow tied for 78th and Graf tied for 82nd.
In Tuesday’s season opener, the foursome helped the Ramblers shoot 330 to take third place at Barrington’s invitational at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur, the site of the Class AA state tournament. The host Fillies finished first with 295, and Normal’s University High was second with 320. Barrington was the Class AA runner-up last season, and the Pioneers placed 10th.
“The experience those four girls have is huge,” McKenney said. “What they did last year set the tone for the offseason and motivated them to work hard. Any one of them is capable of leading us on any given day. Everybody is ready to go.”
At Hickory Point, Boesen led Loyola with a 7-over 79. Kryscio followed with 81, while Gentzkow shot 84 and Graf posted 86.
Junior Cate O’Brien and sophomores Maddie Goss, Caroline Magner and Caroline Mitchell all made the trip to Decatur. Goss shot 91, while Magner and O’Brien each carded 93s. Mitchell posted 103.
As talented as they are, McKenney said Gentzkow, Graf, Boesen and Kryscio are good leaders, too.
“They all have great attitudes and love being together,” she said. “They will be great mentors to the new girls to our team. I can’t say enough good things about them.”