Speaking to those golfers who qualified for state out of Monday's Class 3A Naperville Central sectional at Springbrook Golf Course, there was a sense of happiness at reaching state from them.
But one could sense a true feeling of accomplishment having battled against some of the area's top golfers and been the ones on top when it was all finished.
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"This is one of the toughest sectionals in the state," said Naperville Central senior Eddie Lieser, who qualified individually with a 76.
Defending 3A champion Hinsdale Central won the sectional plaque with a 300 and four scores between 72 and 77. Wheaton Warrenville South, with a 309, heads to The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington this weekend having qualified for state as a team for the first time in 16 years. Benet's 311 was good for third and the last qualifying team spot.
WW South junior Will Kelly was meet medalist with 70.
"It was really a timely round. A good time to play like this," he said. "The back nine is tougher. They're longer and you need better tee shots."
Kelly said the Tigers hit their stride at the right time.
"I knew all year that this team had an unbelievable amount of talent and we have been coming into our own at regionals and sectionals," he said.
Tommy Dale followed with a 78, with Bailey Dalhquist hitting 80 and Will Denman and Sean McCaffrey each shooting an 81. Brian McCaffrey finished with an 83. The top four scores of each team counted toward the final team total.
"We're really excited. We finally got down to state," Dale said. "It's been a goal ever since we've been playing high school (golf)."
Benet, like the other teams and individuals that qualified, was more than happy to make it through.
"We were shocked with all the powerhouses here. Things were brutal with the wind. We were able to grind it through with some decent numbers. We did a good job," said senior Alex Bassetto, who led the Redwings with a 73.
Keys to Bassetto's performance was answering with a birdie on the front nine immediately after a bogey and earning an eagle on the 11th.
Also heading to state for Benet are George Carroll, Ben Johnson, Matt Rogers, J.J. VanEekeren and Frank Ferconio.
Several golfers from DuPage County qualified as individuals. Glenbard North sophomore Kyle Tintera earned the individual top score of 72. Wheaton North's Connor Morency, a junior, heads to Bloomington thanks to a 75.
Also shooting a 75 and qualifying is Glenbard West senior Will Hanson, making his first trip, like many, to state.
"I wasn't making many putts, but they started to drop and I was making the short putts count," he said.
Lieser said his performance on early holes helped him in a big way.
"I missed a couple of short putts at the end, but I made a couple of ups and downs earlier for par and that made up for that," he said.
One might think that when all the scores are in, the meet is over. That didn't happen Monday as five golfers were tied at 77 for the final individual qualifying spot. Waubonsie Valley senior Jason Marrs knows playoffs very well.
It was his third high school playoff in a year. He was in a sectional playoff last season and was in a playoff for a medalist honors at the recent Upstate Eight Conference meet.
He's heading to state for the first time after following his own advice -- play the hole the best you can, but don't worry about hitting for par. It should do the trick.
"Usually in playoffs, you make par, you should be OK," Marrs said. "I made a birdie putt on the 10th the first time. In the playoff, I had a little longer putt. I just missed it, but I made par."
The lone Tri-Cities qualifier was St. Charles North senior Raghav Cherala, who shot a 76.
"Well, I've never made it down. I'm going to have fun no matter how I do," he said. "I hit the ball really well. My short game was pretty good. My putting was not great, but good. My birdie on the last hole kept me from the playoff."
Monday's meet was the last one for Geneva coach Bill Koehn, who is retiring after 30 years
"It's been an awesome time. I couldn't have asked for a better situation," he said.