Top teams: Hinsdale Central, Wheaton Warrenville South, Benet, Wheaton North, Neuqua Valley, Naperville North, York, Naperville Central, Downers Grove South, Wheaton Academy.
Top athletes: Addison Trail: Dan Hartnett, sr., Nick Sammarco, sr., Tommy Stuhr, sr., Zack Vacca, sr., Joe Zucchero, sr.; Benet: Alex Bessetto, jr., George Carroll, sr. Connor Hickey, sr., Ben Johnson, sr., Nick Schaner, soph.; Downers Grove North: Bryan Eckmann, jr., Colin Michaels, sr., Rowin Miller, sr.; Downers Grove South: Trent Caraher, jr., Ben Ficht, sr., Joe Vath, sr.; Fenton: Bryan Larsen, soph., Mike Perry, sr., Brady Pugliese, sr., Cory Schwarz, jr.; Glenbard East: Ben Cartwright, sr., Andrew Honig, jr., Jack Moran, jr., Ben Symonds, sr.; Glenbard North: Joe Nordyke, jr., Sahil Patel, soph., Rocky Randhawa, jr., Kyle Tintera, jr.; Glenbard South: Christopher Dufort, jr., Russell Matos, jr., Kevin Uvodich, sr., Michael Wittenberg, sr.; Glenbard West: Michael Anderson, sr., Kevin Nelson, soph., Kenney Tolivar, sr., Jacob Valdick, soph.; Hinsdale Central: Brian Dolehide, sr., Kenneth Li, jr., Brendan O'Reilly, soph., Drew Shephard, jr.; Hinsdale South: Zach Cole, sr., Nick Haines, soph., Zach Urbancic, sr.; IC Catholic Prep: Stone Brinkman, sr., Anthony Clementi, sr., Robert Hughes, sr.; Lake Park: John Duggan, sr., Nick Dakajos, sr., Phil Duncan, jr., Saahil Patel, jr., Hunter Treiber, jr.; Lisle: Terrence Linn, fr., Bryan O'Connell, soph., Trevor Stitt, soph., George Swedie, sr.; Metea Valley: Jeremy Forbes, sr., Matt Hammerly, jr., Connor Labedz, sr., David Lipan, sr., Mark Prakash, jr.; Montini: Eddie Fitzgerald, sr., Alex Keefe, sr., Matt Spangler, sr.; Naperville Central: Ciaran Conroy, jr., Scott Dunsire, sr., Tommy Dunsire, fr., Sean Morris, sr., Max Welu, jr.; Naperville North: Brendan Bond, jr., Griffin Brown, sr., Kevin Maxson, sr., Ryan Slade, jr., Joe Whang, sr.; Neuqua Valley: Greg Crowley, jr., Thomas Huang, soph., Ian Langton, sr., Mason Rippel, sr., Will Van Alsburg, sr.; St. Francis: Luke Armbrust, fr., Connor Buckley, jr., Pat Mochel, sr., Jonathan Nocek, jr.; Waubonsie Valley: Jack Carter, sr., Parker Hoffman, jr., Nathan Martahan, soph., Jack Troy, soph., Jake Wright, jr.; West Chicago: Ryan Hancock, jr., Mike Miller, sr., Corey Scudder, jr., Jake Watkins, jr.; Wheaton Academy: Kyle Bertsche, soph., Carter Bruntjen, jr., Grant Gosden, jr., Zack Spear, sr.; Wheaton North: Zach Gerry, soph., Ben Shadid, sr., Michael Suazo, sr., Charlie Vasbinder, sr., Caleb Weise, sr. Ben Winklemann, sr.; Wheaton Warrenville South: Bailey Dahlquist, sr., Tommy Dale, sr., Will Kelly, sr., Brian McCaffrey, jr., Sean McCaffrey, jr; Willowbrook: Mike Madrid, sr., Dominic McDonnell, sr., Henry Wallace, sr.; York: Will Gunst, jr., Jordan Less, jr., Frank Wheatland, jr.
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Scouting report: There have been multiple 18-hole tournaments played in the opening week of the season, and the groundwork has already been formed for yet another highly competitive season. In the six-team DuPage Valley Conference, the two Wheaton and the two Naperville high schools are primed for a series of showdowns. Wheaton Warrenville South made the team state cut for the first time in 16 years last year, and coach Jimmy Selleck welcomes back five of his six downstate competitors.
But Wheaton North is the defending conference champion -- ending the five-year stranglehold of Naperville North in the process. Falcons coach Mike Pribaz also has five returning starters in his senior-dominated program. "I have six kids who can all play No. 1," Pribaz said. "Our goal is to take it one day at a time. We're going to see (WW South) three times, probably four. I think we have each other's attention. I would imagine it will be tight all the way."
Perennial power Naperville North won the Naperville City Tournament earlier this week behind the level-par medalist honors of senior Griffin Brown. "I played a lot of national tournaments over the summer," Brown said. "We definitely have some depth as a team. You never know what can happen at the end of the season."
"We always have high expectations," Naperville North coach Ryan Hantak said. "We're capable of maybe winning a regional and going downstate."
Scott Dunsire is the senior leader for Naperville Central. "I expect to be one of the top contenders in state," Dunsire said. "I hope to get the team out (to state). We haven't done that in a long time. I think we are going to be successful."
Much will be expected of Glenbard North returning state qualifier Tintera to lead the Panthers' fortunes this year. Marty Gaughan is the new coach at Benet, and Dan Nagis' extended tenure for the Redwings concluded with a team state appearance last fall in Bloomington. Bessetto is the Redwings' top-rated returnee from the state sextet. "I would rather have the opportunity to be really good than not," Gaughan said. "We're going to have a good year. We are trying to stay in the moment, shot to shot. The expectations have more importance than what you need to do."
Neuqua Valley is another large-class school to bear in mind this fall. The Wildcats opened the season by winning the Naperville Central Bob Sterr Invitational at Naperbrook with a sizzling 294. Second-year coach Bart Carbonneau has multiple weapons in his arsenal. "It's probably the most depth I have ever coached," Carbonneau said. "I could probably switch out my (Nos.) 1 through 10, and you wouldn't know the difference with the final score."
Longtime underclass coach Eric Flodberg takes over for Dave Owles at Waubonsie Valley. "We have a very young team," Flodberg said.
Glenbard East joins the fray in the Upstate Eight Valley after an extended tour of duty in the DuPage Valley. "I think there are more schools that we have a similar skill set to," Rams coach Chris Weinke said. With the addition of the Rams and West Aurora to the Valley, West Chicago moves over to the River Division of the UEC this fall. Miller is the Wildcats' senior leader. Lipan is the No. 1 player for Metea Valley.
For the wealth of Class 3A boys golf programs who litter the area, Hinsdale Central is not only the class of the county but also the team to beat state-wide this fall. The Red Devils are coming off back-to-back state championships; the scary thing is their top-two players -- Li and O'Reilly -- have three combined years of eligibility remaining. "We still have to go out and play," Hinsdale Central coach Jess Krueger said.
In the two West Suburban divisions, York has the best chance among the local contenders to give Hinsdale Central a challenge. "I don't know what else to say about (Hinsdale Central and fellow Silver power Lyons Twp.)," Glenbard West coach Paul Hezlett said. "I'm sure they're going to just as strong as ever." Hezlett has grand ambitions for sophomore Nelson. "He's going to be one of our top guys," Hezlett said.
Downers Grove South is the team to beat in the Gold behind the formidable 1-2 punch of Vath and Caraher. Eric Norberg, who has switched positions at Addison Trail from the girls to the boys this fall, has a senior quintet as his top-five players. Willowbrook will look for legitimacy behind Madrid.
Glenbard South and Wheaton Academy are the two local programs to watch among the Class 2A area members. "Last year was pretty special, winning conference (Metro Suburban), the regional (St. Rita), the sectional (Nazareth) and finishing sixth at state," Glenbard South coach Scott Iliff said. "These guys are looking forward to getting back to state. But they can't look too far forward. I have high expectations." Matos is a prime contender for a top individual finish in the middle-tier state tournament. The junior has able company in returnees Dufort, Uvodich and Wittenberg.
St. Francis and Montini made it a clean sweep of the Nazareth sectional among local programs with their second- and third-place results in LaGrange Park. But Wheaton Academy rates a slight edge over them as the Warriors have two highly rated returning state qualifiers in Gosden and Spear.
Key dates: Aug. 28, Geneva Invitational; Aug. 30, Fenton Invitational; Sept. 6, Batavia Invitational; Sept. 13, Zion-Benton Invitational; Sept. 15, Ruth Lakes High School Challenge; Sept. 20, Wheeling Invitational; Sept. 27, Hinsdale Central Red Devil Invitational; Week of Sept. 29, Conference championships; Oct. 4, Lake Park Invitational.
-- Kevin McGavin