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Putnam County senior Stephanie Wilson is the 2013 NewsTribune Girls Golfer of the Year. Wilson had an area-best 45.2 average, shot an area-best 86 to place second at the Class A Putnam County Regional and helped the Lady Panthers to their first ever regional championship. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
The Stephanie Wilson File
Had area-best nine-hole average of 45.2
Shot school-record 86 to place second at Class A Putnam County Regional
Led Lady Panthers to first-ever regional championship
McNABB — When Stephanie Wilson helped start the Putnam County girls golf program as a freshman, golf wasn’t her favorite sport.
It still wasn’t throughout her freshman season as the Lady Panthers spent the year practicing and had just one meet.
But by the end of her sophomore year, golf had officially moved to the top of the three-sport athlete’s list.
“When we got into the meets (sophomore year), I liked the way it’s so laid back and it’s kind of your own game, and yet you need your team,” Wilson said. “I like the way you can come out here (to the golf course) whenever and practice and play.”
The more she played the more she liked the sport, and by junior year, Wilson decided she wanted to continue her golf career in college.
“Junior year I knew I wanted to go to school for golf because it’s something I enjoy and I just like to play it all the time,” Wilson said. “Senior year is when I buckled down and I knew I had to get good scores and play my best so colleges would look at me.”
Wilson did play the best golf of her high school career as a senior and she has several colleges recruiting her, including Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee and Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wis.
As a senior, Wilson led the area in nine-hole average at 45.2, led the Lady Panthers to their first-ever regional championship and set the school record for medalist performances in a season (eight), birdies in a season (five) and 18-hole score (86).
For all those accomplishments, Wilson is the 2013 NewsTribune Girls Golfer of the Year.
She is the first PC player to earn the award.
“Stephanie had another great year for us,” PC coach Eric Ciucci said. “She was rock solid from start to finish and had a very strong postseason.”
After a strong junior season in which she earned NT All-Area honors, Wilson spent the offseason working on her game.
She played more during the week and played in several tournaments, including the Little People’s Junior Golf Tournament in Quincy and the State Farm tournament in Bloomington.
“She puts in a lot of work,” Ciucci said. “Steph did some things this summer to make herself a better player. Those tournaments had a lot of Division I golfers in them. She put herself out there a little bit and really learned a lot of composure and just a lot of perseverance of keeping a round together, and I think that truly helped her a lot this year.”
Wilson changed her stance on her drives and approach shots with the help of her father, Steve, started to use her wrists more on her iron shots and improved her putting with repetition.
“I was hitting the ball better, I was feeling better and I was more confident coming in from those tournaments,” Wilson said. “I knew what to expect. I knew this year I had to be better if I wanted to reach my goals.”
Wilson really began to feel confident when she shot a 94 and placed 10th at the Midland Invitational on Sept. 15.
She carded a season-low 42 on Sept. 26 at Princeton and had everything come together Oct. 9 at the Class A Putnam County Regional.
That day, Wilson shot a school-record 86 and placed second while helping the Lady Panthers to PC’s first regional golf title — boys or girls — and their second consecutive team trip to sectionals.
“I think it was the vibe,” Wilson said. “I came out knowing it was my home course and this was my chance to show I can play my best golf. After the third hole, I knew I was doing well and I just had to keep it up. I concentrated and just played my game and didn’t worry about the other golfers in my group.”
The next week, Wilson shot a 91 at the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Sectional to fall a stroke shy of the state tournament and end her prep career.
But Wilson will now carry her love of the game to the next level.
“She’s a three-sport star athlete at our school, but golf seems to be what her true passion is, and it’s exciting to see someone take something that’s a little bit outside the box like golf and really have a strong passion for it,” Ciucci said. “She’s worked extremely hard, and she’s just a good example of what hard work can do for you in golf.
“We’re extremely proud of Stephanie and what she’s contributed to this program and we wish her the best of luck going forward.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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