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updated: 8/23/2013 3:39 PM

Naturally, Johnson and Powell have high hopes

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  • Prospect's Josh Johnson makes his chip shot on the fourth hole while competing against Barrington at Makray Memorial Golf Course last season.

       Prospect's Josh Johnson makes his chip shot on the fourth hole while competing against Barrington at Makray Memorial Golf Course last season.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Brad Powell hits out of the bunker on the 6th hole at Ivanhoe Country Club last season in Mundelein.

       Barrington's Brad Powell hits out of the bunker on the 6th hole at Ivanhoe Country Club last season in Mundelein.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

Prospect's Josh Johnson and Barrington's Brad Powell are two of the top golfers and athletes in Illinois.

That's why it was so frustrating to see mother nature interfere with their plans at the most important tournament of 2012.

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First, the basics.

Johnson is a senior and has been excelling for the Knights varsity since his sophomore season. He led his team to an unblemished 11-0 record and Mid-Suburban League championship last season, tying for second place individually at the league tournament.

He's also had great success during the summer, winning an AJGA event and shooting a 66 at Geneva National.

Powell is also a senior, and made a dynamic impact on the Broncos' fortunes last year. He fired a 76 at the opening state preview tournament at the "Den" at Fox Creek in Bloomington, had another top 10 finish at the Biltmore Invitational, took third place at Stonewall Orchard, and earned all-conference honors at the MSL Tournament.

The success for both players continued through regionals and sectionals, where both Johnson and Powell qualified for the Class 3A state finals at the Den, where they tamed the notoriously difficult links by shooting 77 on day one.

That left them only 6 shots behind the leaders with the final day of the tourney on the horizon.

"At that point, I thought there was a chance for a top 10 finish," said Johnson.

"I had been to state in 2011 and did not do well -- I put too much pressure on myself. Last year it all came together and I was excited about Saturday."

Unfortunately, inclement weather conditions -- as so often happens at Fox Creek during state tourney time -- intervened. The rains came early and forced the cancellation of day two.

Johnson had finished two holes and had hit his tee shot on the third, while Powell had four holes in the books when the horn sounded, forcing the golfers off the course.

"It was a huge disappointment," said Powell. "We were hoping against hope that play would resume. But two hours later they called it."

Still, a top 20 finish at the pinnacle of the season is quite an achievement, especially considering they've got a shot to get back this year and finish the job -- something their coaches are looking forward to.

"Brad leads by example," said Barrington coach Mike Kallenbach. "He loves team golf and the bigger the stage, the bigger Brad plays."

Prospect's Tom Martindale had similar praise for his senior leader.

"Josh is well respected by his peers, and the staff at our school," said Martindale. "He's also a great student who has a high grade-point average and he's a member of various leadership groups at our school."

It definitely will one of the season goals for both athletes to make it back to Den.

Johnson has been there twice, both times as an individual, while Powell qualified along with his Broncos teammates.

And they know before those two (hopefully) days in mid-October come around, there's a lot more work to be done in the regular season, MSL championship and regionals and sectionals.

"We've got an extremely young team this year," said Powell, "but the guys coming up have a lot of experience. We want to get downstate again and with the guys we have I think it's a realistic goal."

Same goes for Johnson.

"It was a great highlight last season to go undefeated and win conference outright. I'm looking forward to doing that again, and of course I want to make it back to state -- but this time with my team."

"To do that we're going to have to play our best every time out."

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