Fremd golfer Jamie Drost says that it's "personally important" to him to advance to the state tournament this season.
The way the senior and his Vikings teammates have been playing lately, there's a great chance they'll be at the "Den" in Bloomington come mid-October.
Drost fired a 38 Wednesday at Palatine Hills to help lead Fremd to a 151-154 win over rival Palatine in the final regular-season Mid-Suburban League match for both teams.
Fremd teammates Dylan Norys and Connor Ostoich also shot 38 in the victory, while Josh Rosenzweig led the way with a 37 on the course's 3,380-yard front nine.
"I really feel like Jamie is the best player in conference this season," said Vikings coach Josh Teschner of Drost, who's averaging 74.2 for 18-hole events this year and just a shade over 37 for 9-hole meets.
"We've got a lot of great golfers in the MSL this year -- Josh Johnson from Prospect, Kenny Mleko of Hersey, Tim Klein out here from Palatine and the kids from Barrington -- but there's no one who can string together birdies the way that Jamie can.
"He's also the best putter in the state."
Drost, who won the prestigious Ivanhoe Invitational a couple of weeks ago, says his team has the talent to make it down to Bloomington, but realizes it might be a tough go once they get there.
"It's a difficult course," said Drost of the "Den," the long-time home of the Class 2A tournament when there were just two state classes and which now hosts the Class 3A meet. "Especially with the bad weather and the wind."
Drost was happy about the Vikings' victory at Palatine on a sun-kissed day but also realizes there are more important things to come.
"We know that the regular season gets us prepared for the regionals and sectionals," said Drost, "so we don't put too much stock in any one match. But we're still thinking we've got a great shot to win the conference championship."
Wednesday's win was big for Fremd heading to Monday's league championship meet, where equal weight is given to not only tournament play but also to conference record. The Vikings' 8-3 mark puts them just behind Barrington and Prospect.
It was a difficult loss for Palatine, which has been extremely competitive this season with a 7-4 conference mark.
"It's frustrating," said Pirates junior Tom Broders, who shot 39 at Palatine Hills. "I don't feel like I've been living up to my potential. I haven't been stoked about the way I've been playing this season."
Many would disagree, as Broders has been one of the top golfers on a strong Pirates team. But the junior feels he can do better.
"It's definitely the mental game that's been holding me back," said Broders. "Even today, I was playing well and could have scored lower but I had a 4-putt on one hole."
Klein, a senior, led the way for Palatine with 37 while classmate Preston Towers carded a 38.
Fremd coach Teschner has been duly impressed with the Pirates not only this season but the last couple of years as well.
"Mark (Pirates coach Johnson) has done an incredible job with that program," said Teschner. "A few years ago when we'd play them we knew we'd be able to win by 5 or 6 shots."
"Now every time we play them it's a dogfight. It always comes down to a stroke or two either way. They're as tough as they come."