JOLIET – Mia Natividad wore bulky black mittens to keep her hands warm after Thursday's round of golf.
She kept cool when it counted.
Natividad birdied her final hole, a big finish to a back-and-forth back nine, for a 4-over par 75 and one-shot win over Joliet Central's Morgan Anderson at the Southwest Prairie Conference meet at a breezy Inwood Golf Course in Joliet.
It's the second straight SPC tournament title for Natividad, a Yorkville sophomore.
"I was just trying to end well," Natividad said. "This year was definitely more pressure. Last year going in I had no expectations with my sister here. This year was more pressure, with everybody thinking I would win. I just had to play my game and it worked out."
Joliet Central, led by Anderson's 76, shot a 332 to win its third straight SPC team title, 31 shots clear of runner-up Oswego Co-op (363). Yorkville (371) was fifth.
Natividad and Anderson were tied at 3-over as they made the turn Thursday, but Natividad dropped two shots off the lead with double bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes.
Trailing by a shot entering the final hole, hit driver and a short second shot to within four feet, and converted the birdie putt. Anderson followed by missing her par putt for the tie by an inch.
"I was just trying for par," Natividad said. "I was not trying to add more stress because I had the two doubles prior to that."
Last year, Natividad and Anderson shot matching 77s in miserable conditions at the conference meet, Natividad winning on a scorecard playoff.
Yorkville coach Eva Schoenfielder beamed with pride at how her young golfer persevered Thursday.
"She really had it in her mind that she wanted to come out a winner at the end of the day," Schoenfielder said. "She fought through, the wind came out, but she did what she needed to do. She was driven. She's matured so much from last year to this year and she's worked so hard."
Joliet Central coach James Grzetich had high praise for Yorkville's talented young golfer. Natividad, the conference MVP, and Anderson were the only two golfers to break 80 Thursday.
"Mia is an outstanding player, the sky is the limit," Grzetich said. "She just had an outstanding round, Morgan did as well."
Youth was indeed served at the conference meet.
Plainfield East sophomore Hailey Pokorski shot an 82 for third place, Oswego Co-op freshman Katelin Hong posted an 83 for fourth and Joliet Central sophomore McKenna Anderson's 84 tied Minooka's Lauren Phillips-Newcomb and West Aurora's Emma Lawless for fifth.
Hong and fellow Oswego Co-op freshman Shyell Lowe finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the final conference standings that included dual and tournament results. They led a program that graduated last year's conference MVP, Summer Hawkins.
"A nice little injection for the team after losing Summer," Oswego Co-op coach Brian Chandler said. "This tournament especially was an awesome experience for them. I was proud of the fact that when there a couple bad holes, they bounced back. It's an opportunity to get better. I think they did a pretty darn good job."
Hong was at 4-over after the front nine Thursday, barely missing eagle on the par 4 ninth hole. She took a nine on the 470-yard par 5 13th hole, but other than that kept her composure as the winds picked up on the back.
"I just had the one blow up hole," Hong said. "I went in the water, that's what messed up a lot of people. But I felt OK about my round."
All-conference golfers included Natividad, Laine Leonard and Maddie Battaglia from Yorkville and Hong and Lowe from Oswego Co-op.