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updated: 8/16/2012 10:36 PM

Kukec, Maine West off to record start

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By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald correspondent

Senior Tom Kukec and the rest of the Maine West Warriors are off to quite a start in the 2012 boys golf season.

Kukec, a three-sport athlete, fired a school-record individual round of 72 on Tuesday as West triumphed at the Maine/Niles shootout for the first time ever.

The Warriors not only won the tourney, they set another school mark in the process. Their team total of 304 at Chick Evans Golf Course was the best-ever tally in the history of the school, bettering the 309 score set by the 1991 and 2008 squads.

Kukec, who also excels on the West baseball and basketball teams, got a lot of support at Chick Evans from his senior teammates.

Justin Mustari (74), Tony Volk (78) and Kurt Fester (80) all contributed to the spectacular day.

"The season has started great for the Warriors," said coach Mike Godlewski of his team, which pitched in on Wednesday to help the Central Suburban North defeat the CSL South in a showcase challenge as well.

"It's a pretty nice start for sure," added Kukec, who qualified for the state tournament at the 'Den' in Bloomington last year as a junior, where he acquitted himself nicely.

Kukec's 72 bested the old school mark of 73 that was set by Evan Haase in 2008.

"Tom is a great leader," said Godlewski. "He works extremely hard in all of the sports he plays, and he's now the best golfer that I've coached in my 18 years of coaching varsity golf at Maine West."

"He's now gone past some outstanding golfers that have played here and gone on to play collegiately, such as Haase, Paul Ohrlein, Pat Cullen, Ryan O'Connell and Mike Fastert."

For his part, the team-oriented Kukec is more focused on the Warriors as a unit than his own play.

"I think we can have a big year," said the senior. "Last season we had two players advance to sectionals as individuals, and this year we've got seven or eight guys who have the chance to advance."

Kukec, who is looking to attend a Big Ten school such as Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin or Michigan next year, is appreciative of his trip to the 'Den' in 2011 and hopes he can get back there in his senior campaign.

"It was a bit unexpected," Kukec said of last year's state qualification. "But it was a lot of fun being among the best golfers in the state, and I think I held my own."

And with the start they've already enjoyed, not many would be betting against Kukec or his mates to have another tremendous season.

"Tom is very respected by his teammates," said Godlewski, "and by opposing golfers alike. He's a soft-spoken person who leads by example and lets his great golf do the talking for him."

"It's a pleasure to have had him on my varsity golf team for all four years."

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