Oak Park and River Forest senior Haley Gladden carded an 87 as the medalist at the Payton Regional of the Class 2A state playoffs. Gladden, a two-time all-conference player, led the Huskies (382 team score) to the regional team title as well.
Teammates Anika Carlson (93), Lydia Maychruk (97), Ella Haas (105), Allison Turner (111) and Anna Gagliardo (112) also represented OPRF. With the exception of Haas, a junior, all the players are seniors.
“Haley leads by example and is the team’s top scorer,” OPRF coach Matt McMurray said. “Anika is a leader and one of our most consistent players. Ella made huge strides in her game over the summer. After taking a year off from golf, Lydia came back to be a solid contributor this season.”
The players excel in the classroom, too.
“All of our seniors received WSC All-Academic honors,” McMurray said. “That list includes Emily Kopka, Haley Gladden, Anika Carlson, Anna Gagliardo, Lydia Maychruk and Alli Turner.”
Battle-tested from the rigors of playing in the stacked West Suburban Conference Silver Division, OPRF went 5-9 in dual matches and finished sixth in the conference championship.
The Huskies’ stats are a bit misleading due to both strength of conference and schedule.
“I thought the team played well, but struggled in winning the close matches,” McMurray said. “We lost five matches by 10 strokes or less and three matches by less than three strokes. We weren’t able to eke out any of the tight matches. That hurt us in the conference standings.”
Fortunately, the Huskies rounded into form right on time at regionals.
“I want them to play their best golf, whatever that may be, and to have a blast doing it,” McMurray said. “I was really proud of them at the regional because several of them rose to the occasion and played some of their strongest rounds when it mattered the most.
“I would like for some of our top girls, especially Haley who was so close last year, to make it downstate,” he added. “That’s the ultimate goal.”
Gladden fell short of going downstate by four strokes last year. The team captain appears poised for a state finals berth this fall.
“Haley is a hard worker,” McMurray said. “She put a lot of time and effort into her game over the simmer. We’re hoping she’ll make it down to state next week.”
In fact, McMurray has high hopes for all the Huskies who have impressed him with their attitude and work ethic.
“I like their dedication to the game and their receptiveness to feedback and coaching,” McMurray said. “The girls work hard and show a clear desire to get better. They have a lot of fun together. I feel the team has built a tight bond over the last several seasons.”
Editor’s note: Sectionals took place on Oct. 8 (passed print deadline). Gladden (84) and Haas (89) advanced to the state finals and OPRF placed fifth with a score 369 at the Conant Sectional.