SPRING VALLEY — Morris senior golfer Olivia Kief has picked a good time to find her A game.
Despite starting off the Class A St. Bede Regional with a pair of three putts on the front nine, Kief composed herself and carded scores of 40/42 to earn top medalist honors on the afternoon. Her score of 82 was one better than Gina Vallone of Bishop McNamara on the day.
In addition to Kief, Morris sophomore Hailey Hoaglund also made the cut individually with a round of 111. McNamara won the event as a team with a combined score of 360.
However, this day — and the Spring Creek Golf Course — belonged to Kief.
"I'm really excited. I'm please with how I've been playing," Kief said. "I started the season out kind of rough with the tendinitis and everything, but I couldn't have picked a better time for my game to improve and to be playing my best."
Playing good right now has fit in nicely for Kief in terms of the goals she has set from the beginning of the season.
"I couldn't be happier for her. She had certain goals in mind coming into the season," Morris coach Matt Lafond said. "The first one was winning the conference. That was mission accomplished. The next one was winning a regional and beating a certain individual who has gotten her in years past. She beat her by one stroke. That makes it even more sweet for her."
One Kief overcame her slow start, she was well into full gear three holes later. In fact, she came within about one inch from carding an eagle on five and after hitting the turn plunked one in from 25 yards out on 11.
"That what probably helped me win this today because I won by one stroke," she said.
All the while, Hoaglund was putting together the kind of day that even Kief could not achieve two seasons ago as a sophomore.
"Hailey's going to be someone to watch in the coming years because she got to sectionals as a sophomore and I didn't do that," Kief said.
Lafond was equally as happy for both his performers.
"You know, I'm extremely happy for Olivia, but to see Hailey moving on as well — I'm overjoyed," he said. "I don't think she came in expecting anything. She was happy to come along and do the best she could. For her to make it is awesome."
Hoaglund said that getting the chance to golf at the Champaign Sectional on Tuesday is more than she ever could have expected.
"It feels great. I didn't know I could do it. Now I want to keep going," she said. "I'm proud. I think for only having two girls on the team we did pretty good. For Oliva to win it was great."
Both Seneca and Coal City were also at the event, though neither team advanced. Junior Alyssa Erickson of Coal City had the best round with a 118 (60/58). Seneca's best score came from Natalie Hamilton (125). Morgan Piehl also golfed for Coal City and she carded a 141.
"Alyssa got out her freshman year. Last year was a tougher regional and didn't make it out there. This year was a little bit smaller. Not weaker — smaller. So we thought she might get out this year. I think she would have been one of the next to go," Coal City coach David Sinkular said. "Overall, both girls shot today better than they did at conference. They improved and we are obviously happy with that. It hurts us not to have the fourth player this year and it hurt. The girls had to play with the boys a lot and didn't get a lot of time on the course because of it. Hopefully we can pick up a couple more girls and get a team."
Seneca did field a team and finished sixth with a team score of 569.
"For the girls, we're a young team. We have three freshmen and one junior," Seneca coach Bryan Erickson said. "Coming into this it was more about getting experience in regional play. Natalie Hamilton was our low, and she's one of our freshmen. We have high hopes for her. Jacquelyn Newberry (127) been around a couple of years, but she didn't play as well today. We thought she had a chance to get out, but she'll be back as a senior. Hopefully those two, and if the other freshmen improve and we add some new players, we'll be looking at maybe competing at a regional."
Also scoring for the Lady Irish were Hannah Cisco (154) and Heather Vroman (163).