LA SALLE — Nineteen strokes separated Minooka's lowest score from its second-lowest. That may not be an ideal formula, but it got the Indians to a sectional Wednesday.
Behind Rachel Herzberger's career-best round of 80, the Indians totaled a 382 for third place in the team standings at the Class AA La Salle-Peru Girls Golf Regional at Senica's Oak Ridge. Team champion Moline, with a 355, and Galesburg, with a 375, joined Minooka in qualifying for Monday's University Sectional in Normal.
Herzberger is winding down her second season as the Indians' No. 1 and her fourth overall in the program, but coach Joe Host saw a different golfer on Wednesday.
"This is the first time she's truly relaxed and played golf. She went out and had fun for 18 holes today," Host said. "I didn't have a number in mind for her going in. I will say that I'm not surprised to see her shoot an 80. She has that kind of talent."
Prior to the regional, Herzberger had played Senica's Oak Ridge only once in her life — an abbreviated practice round on Monday. She shot a 42 over nine holes. But she said she had little trouble finding a groove on Wednesday, as her play was consistent over 18 holes.
"I was just able to relax and stop worrying about the other golfers, what the girls playing with me were shooting, and play the course," Herzberger said. "(The course) plays a little bit more to your shorter irons, which is what I'm really good at."
The Indians' score also included a pair of 99s from Ashley Gray and Gabby Osorio. Host said he was pleased with the scores of both golfers.
"Absolutely, especially Ashley Gray," Host said. "After I believe it was Hole 3, I caught up with her and she said, 'It's not going too good.' I told her to hang with it, that it could turn around and to keep battling, because we may need you.
"Gabby is very consistent, in her play and in her attitude. She doesn't let things bother her, she just goes and makes the next shot."
Deaven Hudson's 104 was the final counting score for the Indians, who also got a 110 from Ali Lee and a 117 from Rebecca Andreano. They finished with 33 fewer strokes than fourth-place Metamora.
Minooka will play in its third straight sectional Monday at Illinois State University's Weibring Golf Club in Normal.
"We'll go play there Sunday and see what the course has to offer," Host said. "I know plenty of good teams will be there. We'll probably have to shoot lower than we did today to have a chance, obviously, but some of our girls are capable of doing that."