By Wyatt Dojutrek, online sports editor

The Knights varsity girls’ golf team took home 9th place in the IHSA state meet at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur. This was the team’s first appearance in a state meet since the 2014 season, when they placed fifth.

Senior Kate Ponzi had the best score of her career at her first state tournament shooting a 75. Ponzi would later finish the tournament with a 151: good enough for 14th best in the state of Illinois.

According to head coach Jim Hamann, Ponzi’s performance was one of the best performances he has seen in his tenure as head coach.

“Kate not only played well at the state meet, but the past 3-4 weeks she has played outstanding,” Hamann said. “She has been one of our hardest workers all year and all of the phases of her game have been showing up on the course. Her score at the state tournament was one of the lowest scores in our programs history.”

Ponzi thought that the players from the 2013 state championship team helped her get to this point in her golf career.

“It was amazing to be in the same group as those top players that are now playing at a Division l school,” Ponzi said. “It’s really inspiring to me because I looked up to them in my freshman year, and they really helped me improve from my freshman year all the way to my senior year.”

Hamann was very proud of his team for playing their very best during the time that matters the most.

“I was really excited that the girls played their best round of the entire season at the state tournament,” Hamann said. “I could not think of anything else that the girls could’ve done during that first day but it was just such a great day and something that the girls should celebrate.”

Hamann also thought that the less experienced varsity players played extremely well in their first state tournament of their careers.

“Players like Emily [Fleming], and Kelly [Kavanagh] had their best rounds of the year at the state tournament,” Hamann said. “It was great for them to get that valuable state championship experience.”

However, the Knights road to the state championship was a challenging one because in the sectional meet, the team had to face off against Loyola Academy, who the Knights had trouble against during the regular season.

“Loyola beat us all year at all different types of events, so to beat them for the first time at the sectional tournament was awesome,” Hamann said.

But to the Knights’ advantage, the sectional meet was played at Buffalo Grove Golf Course where the Knights played their home meets in 2014 while the Mount Prospect Golf Course was undergoing renovations.

“To have that experience at the same golf course was so important for us,” Ponzi said. “We knew the course like the back of our hands and we knew where to shoot the ball on specific holes; we treated the course like it was our home course.”

The Knights used the advantage well, finishing in third place behind New Trier and MSL champion and eventual state runner-up, Barrington. The team finished three strokes ahead of Loyola 330-333.

According to Ponzi, the team thought that they could make it to state but knew they had to face a lot of tough competition to get there.

“I think that early in the season and during the summer we thought we could go to state,” Ponzi said. “However, we knew that there were so many great teams this year and if we wanted to go back, we had to work harder than ever.”

According to Hamann, this season’s team has been one of his favorites in his time as the leader of the program.

“To help these girls get to the state tournament and do what they did is one of the proudest moments of my coaching career,” Hamann said. “Even though I knew it was possible, I can tell other schools in the state did not expect us to be there.”