Familiar leaders in boys golf state tournament
BLOOMINGTON — The first day of the Class 3A boys golf state tournament merely took a major detour from the St. Charles East sectional on Monday at St. Andrews.
With a splash of irony only an English teacher would relish, the same three teams — Hinsdale Central, Naperville North and Lyons Township — hold the top three slots after first-round action Friday at The Den at Fox Creek.
"We knew our sectional was loaded," Benet coach Dan Nagis said after Hinsdale Central toured the par-72 layout collectively at 306 to take a 2- and 3-shot lead into final-round action against the Huskies and Lions. "This just confirms that."
Naperville residents Raymond Knoll and Peter Mandich have been butting heads on the links since they were in elementary school.
The two will have one final showdown in their respective bids to earn an individual state championship.
Knoll, the Iowa-bound four-year standout for Naperville North, is 2 shots off the pace set by Deerfield junior Ian Kelsey and New Trier sophomore Jack Junge after coming home in a blazing 3-under 33 to offset an outward-nine 40 — his highest nine-hole score of the season.
Mandich, the Naperville Central two-time individual state qualifier, is a shot behind his longtime rival after back-to-back 37s.
Knoll is tied for third with his 1-over 73; Mandich sits in a deadlock for fifth after his sensational day on the greens fashioned a 74.
"I love high-pressure, intense golf," Knoll said. "It's my favorite kind of golf. I was hitting the ball all over the place (on the front nine)."
But Knoll played his last three holes in an equal number under par after holing out for eagle on No. 16 and making birdie at the last.
Mandich used the great equalizer in golf — the putter — to compensate for suspect ball-striking.
"It's all about putts out here," Mandich said. "Twenty-nine putts (on the day) will help out any round."
Knoll led four Naperville North players with rounds under 80 as the squad, making its third straight team appearance, seeks its third state championship in program history.
"Second-place (as a team) doesn't mean anything," Naperville North coach Ryan Hantak said. "We've got a good position, but it's all going to come down to (today)."
Brian Dolehide fired a 74 to lead front-running Hinsdale Central.
Neuqua Valley, making its state debut as a team, was in 10th place after a first-round 320.
Jordan Yamamota is in the top 10 after his 76 led Neuqua Valley.
At the Class 2A tournament in Normal, Russell Matos' 77 helped Glenbard South post a 327, good for sixth place.
Wheaton Academy barely clung to the top 10 behind freshman sensation Grant Gosden.
• The girls Class AA tournament north of Decatur also has prominent local representation after Neuqua Valley's Jessica Yuen posted a sizzling 4-under 32 on her outward nine to trail Illinois-bound Stephanie Miller by a stroke, 71-72.
"That's the best nine-hole score in Neuqua (Valley) history," Wildcats coach John Keller said of the Yuen start. "She was in total control."
Wheaton Warrenville South is in 10th place after the first round, but the Tigers' Renee Solberg is in prime position to conclude her career in style.
The WW South senior stands in a tie for fourth place with her opening-round 75.
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