The high school athletic season has arrived.
Golf holds the distinction of being the first out of the gate, and Geneva Country Club was once again the site for a truly once-a-year competition on Monday.
Geneva and archrival Batavia were on the same side as the two Upstate Eight Conference River schools joined forces to face off against the two St. Charles high schools in a boys golf Ryder Cup-style competition, the McChesney Cup.
The schools' three-round, 36-hole tournament was as up-and-down as a national yo-yo championship, but the two St. Charles schools had too much depth in prevailing 185-175 over their league rivals in the match-play competition.
The sport has a penchant for enabling unheralded players to come to the forefront, and St. Charles North eighth-man Kevin Fredrick made the most of his opportunity.
The North Stars' senior never dropped a hole in winning 7-2.
The triumph marked half of St. Charles' final margin of victory.
"I finally fixed my drives," Fredrick said of his disappointing play over the opening two rounds -- team better ball and alternate shot. "I hit some greens in regulation to put some pressure on my opponent. I know I'm better than an eight (his spot in the lineup). I took advantage of my low spot."
Only moments earlier, Batavia sophomore Nick Robinson appeared to be the man of the hour when he trumped his foe 8-1 from his fourth slot.
The St. Charles schools entered the final round with a razor-thin 108.5-107.5 advantage.
"We halved the first hole and then I won like the next four or five holes in a row," Robinson said of his one-sided triumph that momentarily gave the Batavia-Geneva squad the lead. "I felt like I was playing really good golf. (Batavia coach Tim DeBruycker) said that every point counts (in the single matches). I hit the tee shots the best I did all day."
As the last of the 16 singles matches were tallied, St. Charles' depth enabled the combined squad to create the slightest of separation.
St. Charles East senior Connor McAdam had a 6-3 win from his fourth position to increase the spread.
"I put the ball in the fairway off the tee," McAdam said. "I just started to hit better shots."
There has never been a repeat champion in the seven-year history of the unique event.
"Today was about a team, East and North," St. Charles East coach John Stock said. "The season is under way -- we'll see what happens."
Geneva coach Bill Koehn enters the last of his 30 years directing the boys golf program with a true oddity: a freshman No. 1 player.
But Graham Lillibridge stunned St. Charles North senior Raghav Cherala, the two-time reigning River player of the year, for the host Vikings in singles play.
Geneva is dedicating its season to former standout Ray Kaligian, who was killed in a freak carbon monoxide accident at his home in Houston last spring.
"I wasn't going to come back this year, but decided to after what happened (to Kaligian)," Koehn said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.