Nazareth Academy senior girls golfer Gigi Montoro of North Riverside joked that before the Class 1A state meet her favorite number was 90.
“I could not break 90 this season, so hard,” Montoro said.
Her final two rounds for the Roadrunners were her best ever. She shot 84 Friday and 89 Saturday to help Nazareth complete its best season ever with seventh at state (716) at Red Tail Run in Decatur.
“(The 84) was kind of a top of the world experience. I was trying to stay focused the entire round. I was having the mentality that nothing was going to stop me. That was an awesome day,” said Montoro, who tied for 31st overall.
“We were hoping to go out big and I think we really did. (Our team goal) was to make it to the second day and we did. I just wanted to be shooting in the 80s both days. I did that and it was really fun.”
Fellow senior Kacey Hughes tied for 26th at 168 (84-84). Junior Maryssa Zielinski tied for 40th at 179 (91-88), junior Anna Bukovac tied for 67th at 196 (94-102), junior Caitlin Sullivan tied for 71st at 204 (102-102) and sophomore Claire Krema was 78th at 230 (119-111).
In the program’s third state trip, Nazareth easily advanced to the eight-team second day for the first time. The Roadrunners, who finished 12th last year (305) and in 2015, were six strokes from sixth after being sixth following Friday.
Montoro, Hughes, Zielinski and Bukovac returned from last year’s state lineup. This year’s state run also included the program’s first sectional team title and their third regional title and first since 2012.
“This was the best way myself and Kacey could have gone out. We just wanted what was best for the program,” Montoro said.
“The team has worked so hard these past couple of years. I think this was never the plan (for me). Just go play golf and learn a new sport and have fun. And now being (at state) was just an awesome experience.”
Montoro had been a club volleyball player when COVID-19 restrictions hit and she turned to trying golf freshman year. The caddie at Chicago Highlands Club now loves hitting balls with teammates at the Mistwood Golf Dome.
Montoro gave much credit to Nazareth head coach Nicole Jeray and assistant Brian Shields.
“(Shields) was probably the biggest motivator throughout this entire season to just go out and play golf and not worry about numbers,” Montoro said.
Before state, she said she did remember her 102 state round in 2022 that did not make the cut for the second round.
“I remember I came off the course and was so upset. It really gave me something to work for,” Montoro said.
“(That 84) was the best feeling ever. I came off the course, everyone was cheering for me. I got so many hugs. It was fun.”