Scouting DuPage County boys golf
Top teams: Hinsdale Central, York, Neuqua Valley, Glenbard South, Naperville North, Benet, St. Francis, Wheaton Warrenville South, Naperville Central, Downers Grove South.
Top athletes: Addison Trail: Jacob Bartkiewicz, sr., Santino Billotta, sr., Blaise Morris, fr., Charlie O'Connell, sr.; Benet: Alex Bassetto, sr., Austin Feldman, jr., Jack Neenan, jr., Nick Schanzer, jr.; Downers Grove North: Bryan Beckmann, sr., Aidan Lafferty, fr., Alex Malone, jr., Bowen Marks, sr.; Downers Grove South: Trent Caraher, sr., Ben Ficht, sr., Patrick Reeg, sr., Corey Vondra, sr.; Fenton: Andrew Hill, soph., Brendon Tomczak, jr.; Glenbard East: Matt Kinney, sr.; Tyler Reite, soph.; Glenbard North: Jacob Bender, jr., Joe Nordyke, sr., Sahil Patel, jr., Kyle Tintera, sr.; Glenbard South: Christopher Dufort, sr., Jake Filip, jr., Russell Matos, sr., Jake Seaver, sr, Tim Weesner, jr.; Glenbard West: Jay Codington, soph., Trevor Davis, sr., Kevin Nelson, jr., Jacob Valdick, jr.; Ellis Kraitzer, sr,; Hinsdale Central: Grant Labedz, sr., Kenneth Li, sr., Brendan O'Reilly, jr., Mitchell Parse, sr., Drew Shepherd, sr.; Hinsdale South: Brett Bavcevic, sr., Petey Louise, sr., Lane Niemann, sr., Justin Schoenhardt, jr.; IC Catholic Prep: Connor Leahy, soph., Trey Morris, jr., Jack Ricobene, sr.; Lake Park: Joe Abraham, soph., Jake Dianovsky, soph., Phil Duncan, sr., Blake Hansen, sr., Hunter Treiber, sr.; Lisle: Jason Fruk, sr., Damian Guerrero, fr., Bryan O'Connell, jr., Samuel Russo, fr., Trevor Stitt, jr.; Metea Valley: Scott Boyajian, fr., Jack Dziewiatkowski, jr., David Lipan, sr., Mark Prakash, sr.; Montini: Danny Mallory, jr., Joe Reilly, soph.; Naperville Central: Ryan Cagan, soph., Tommy Dunsire, soph., Max Welu, sr., Brian Wirtz, sr.; Naperville North: Brendon Bond, sr., Nick Conley, sr., Connor Ladone, sr., Ryan Slade, sr., Tyler Vincent, sr.; Neuqua Valley: Greg Crowley, sr., Thomas Huang, jr., Jack Richards, sr., Nick Walker, sr.; St. Francis: Luke Armbrust, Connor Buckley, sr., Chris Chimienti, sr., Jonathan Nocek, sr.; Timothy Christian: Jimmy Brush, sr., Jackson Jarzombek, sr., Jared Rhiner, sr., Jonny Strube, jr.; Waubonsie Valley: Conrad Esch, sr., Nathan Martahan, jr., Jack Troy, jr., Jake Wright, sr.; West Chicago: Matt Fuchs, sr., Dominic Labocki, sr., Greg Scudder, sr.; Wheaton Academy: Kyle Bertsche, jr., Carter Bruntjen, sr., Grant Gosden, sr.; Wheaton North: Aidan Brock, jr., Zach Gerry, jr., Justin Povinelli, Caleb Shadid, jr., Trevor Weise, soph.; Wheaton Warrenville South: Connor Dale, jr., Brian McCaffrey, sr., Sean McCaffrey, sr., Benny Mulhearn, sr., Will Rouse, sr.; Willowbrook: Dan Kania, sr., Matt Langer, sr., Max Sarovich, sr., Nick Tiberi, sr.; York: Will Gunst, jr., Jordan Less, sr., Tom Manning, jr., Mitchell Russell, jr., Frank Wheatland, jr.
Scouting report: The west suburban Class 3A boys golf sectional has been at the epicenter of the large-class state tournament the last three years. Hinsdale Central hosted the sectional last year, and the two-time defending state champion was collectively 4-under par in leading fellow West Suburban Silver members York and Lyons Twp. to state berths. Wheaton Warrenville South and Benet were forced to sit out the state tournament despite scores of 296 and 298, respectively. "I've always said the best players don't always get to the state tournament," York coach Jim Borel said.
Four players who fired 2-over-par 74s did not even make the state cut after falling short in a seven-man playoff for the final three at-large bids. Two years previously at St. Andrews in West Chicago, the three team qualifiers -- Hinsdale Central, Naperville North and Lyons Twp. -- swept the downstate trophies at the weather-truncated finals. Hinsdale Central used the momentum of its sectional triumph to put on a masterful performance at the state finals at the Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington last year. Li was 4-under par to lead the Red Devils to a third straight title, a comfortable 21-shot win over New Trier. O'Reilly was solo third to complement the Red Devils' state champion. Hinsdale Central has already broken 290 in its season-opening win at Glen Oaks as the team enters the season as the consensus top-ranked program in the state in its quest for a fourth consecutive state championship. "They might be even better than they were last year," WW South coach Jimmy Selleck said.
"We could be as good as last year," Hinsdale Central coach Jess Krueger said. "If I get two seniors (Parse and Kraitzer) to step up like last year, we could be that good." The golfing-rich Silver is loaded once again. York, eighth a year ago, has five returning players who competed at the Den last fall. "I think we can beat Hinsdale Central on a good day," Borel said.
Glenbard West, another traditional power, looks to regain its area prominence behind juniors Nelson and Valdick. "I think we're going to have more experience," Glenbard West coach Paul Hezlett said. "Our goal is to get the team through the sectional." The Hilltoppers will host a regional at Village Links in Glen Ellyn.
"Glenbard West will be better," Krueger said.
The other community mainstays of the sectional -- Aurora, Naperville and Wheaton -- have an entirely new dynamic this regular season as longtime Upstate Eight Conference powers Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley -- along with sister school Metea Valley -- move to the DuPage Valley Conference. "It's going to increase our competitiveness three or four times," Glenbard North coach Paul Craig said. "You have to compete every time."
Naperville Central coach Barry Baldwin does not suffer from a lack of familiarity with the new additions. "Our conference becomes infinitely harder, especially with Neuqua Valley being so strong," Baldwin said. "Every (dual) match is important. You can't take a day off. I think there are going to be a lot of tiebreakers."
Lake Park coach Dan Batka is well-versed with Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley after many head-on collisions in the schools' former conference. "When we were in the Upstate Eight, Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley and the two St. Charles schools always played a high level," Batka said.
WW South is the defending champion in the DVC. "The stakes are a little higher," Selleck said. "The chances of losing are greater. We're going to have to put in the work to be better (than we are) on paper."
Naperville North invariably has a say in the final conference standings. "Naperville North is a perennial power," Batka said. Naperville North coach Ryan Hantak has no illusions as the season commences in earnest. "I'm optimistic but also realistic," Hantak said. "We need to outwork other teams. We can't rely on the Naperville North program name to carry us. I think Neuqua is going to be the team to beat. No doubt (the additions are) going to add to our stature for golf."
Nowhere was the depth of the Hinsdale Central sectional field more vividly displayed than Wheaton North finishing in seventh place with a team score of 301. The Falcons were decimated by graduation losses. Gerry is the sole returnee from a 12-man varsity roster last fall. "We've got some nice kids coming up," Wheaton North coach Mike Pribaz said. "Last year was our year to do it."
Neuqua Valley made an early statement this week, following tournament wins at Naperville Central and the Naperville City Tournament with a one-sided road win over WW South to begin league dual-match play on Friday. "They thumped us," Selleck said. Waubonsie Valley enters new territory behind top-ranked Esch. "With the change of conference, it's going to be a lot more challenging for us," Waubonsie Valley coach Eric Flodberg said.
First-year Metea Valley coach Pat Brusveen enters the DuPage Valley with Lipan and Prakash as his anchors. "(Lipan) was the regional champion last year (at Oswego)," Brusveen said. The DuPage Valley also boasts some of the top individuals in the land. "(Dunsire will) be one of the best players in the state this year," Baldwin said of his prized sophomore. WW South senior Brian McCaffrey was top 10 in the state last year.
But more than one league coach anointed Glenbard North senior Tintera as the player to beat in the league this fall. "Kyle can compete with any of those kids," Craig said.
Benet is another team to watch this fall, especially if Feldman can sustain his early season form. The junior swept the two Naperville individual titles this week with respective scores of level-par 72 at Naperbrook and 75 at the Naperville Country Club. "We have three players (Bassetto, Feldman and Schanzer) who were on the hinge of going downstate as a team," Benet coach Marty Gaughan said. "We have four strong players (with the addition of Neenan). On any given day, we can go low." Downers Grove South is the favorite in the West Suburban Gold behind returning state qualifier Caraher. Glenbard South had only downstate Morton come between its program and a season never to forget. After winning the Metro Suburban for a fifth consecutive year, the Raiders plowed through the two Class 2A preliminaries. With two players in the top six at the state tournament in Normal, headlined by Matos' fifth-place finish,
Glenbard South had its best finish in program history with its runner-up run. Dufort and Seaver augment Matos as returning state veterans to give the Raiders a formidable triumvirate. "It was a storybook season," Glenbard South coach Scott Iliff said. "We fell a little short (7 shots to Morton). I think (Matos) has his eye on some special things. I have high expectations for the three seniors."
St. Francis also advanced to the state tournament last year at the Illinois State University course, and Nocek was a shot out of the top 10 to pace the Spartans' fifth-place finish. Armbrust, Buckley and Chimienti return for another potential state run for the Spartans as well.
In Class 1A, ICCP sophomore Leahy is a legitimate threat for all-state status in the smallest-school division. "The guys (Leahy) was playing with at state had to shave between nines, while he is still wearing braces," ICCP coach Don Sujack joked.
Key dates: Aug. 27, Geneva Invitational; Aug. 29, Buffalo Grove Invitational; Sept. 5, Fenton Invitational; Sept. 12, Batavia Invitational; Sept. 12, Providence Catholic Invitational; Sept. 16, Aurora City Tournament; Sept. 26, Hinsdale Central Invitational; Week of Sept. 28, Conference championships; Oct. 3, Lake Park Invitational; Oct. 3, LaSalle-Peru Invitational.