Boys golf: Warren steps up, wins Lake County invite
Competition was at a high level in the annual Lake County boys golf invitational at Fox Lake Country Club hosted by Grant High School on Monday afternoon.
Expectations are very high for many schools in the area this season, as confirmed by results for the 15 teams that competed on the par 72, 6,359-yard course.
What was not totally expected by the end of the 18 holes in a shotgun format was Warren carding the top score, 297.
Mundelein was second, 5 shots off the pace (302). Stevenson placed third (303), and Lake Forest (306) was edged Highland Park (306) four fourth place on the fifth score. Libertyville (316) was 1 shot ahead off Lake Zurich (317) for the sixth spot.
"I think our guys relaxed a little bit, realizing the course may not be that tight with a lot of the water," said Warren coach Mike Wittes, relating the Fox Lake course to where the Blue Devils play, at Bittersweet in Gurnee. "Playing every day really helps us prepare for some of the courses we do play."
The Blue Devils' preparation and focus pulled them together and beat some of the best teams in Lake County.
Warren opened the season last Monday by playing a quad at Willow Glen Golf Course. In that context, the Blue Devils shot 329.
"This is huge and I don't think we've ever won it," said Wittes. "Now we might have to expect it all the time. We do have five of six back from the sectional team (last year). They have played well in the past. Over the past week, we did spend a day working on the short game. On Friday, we were on the green putting, and working at the driving range.
"I think the kids were focusing a little bit more. They know the expectations are high and the bull's eye is on their back this year. They won't sneak up on anybody."
Trevor Britton led Warren and was the top medalist with an impressive 2-under par 70 that included four birdies on the difficult course.
"I just tried to play good, smart golf and get as many birdies as I could, and at the end it worked out," said Britton, who shot 35 on the front and 35 on the back. "Going in, I knew the greens were going to be sloped, so I had to put the ball under the pin for the most part so I could get an uphill putt. I drained a couple and it worked out. I just tried to play a lot of woods off the tee and tried to get myself into a good position to attack the green."
Other Blue Devils providing key rounds were Karl Torentino and Zane Blavins, each with 75s, and Ray Cordova with a 77.
Mundelein was led by Tyler White, who was a shot off the lead with a 71. Ryan McGee added a 1-over 73.
"There was a lot of really tough pin positions out there," White said. "For me, it was a lot of lag putting. I didn't try to go for it and I tried to get it close for a two-putt. Here the greens were definitely the toughest part."
Brett Parola added a 77 for the Mustangs and Zach Zentz helped out with an 81.
"We're happy with (second place), we've got guys playing some pretty good golf," Mundelein coach Todd Parola said. "We need to establish our depth and figure that out over the next month. We need to find our fifth and sixth guy."
Stevenson also in the mix near the top of the leaderboard despite the departure of a couple of golfers who moved to Florida in the off-season, talented competitors Kamaren Sandhu and Jedi Jhu.
Jackson Bussell led the Patriots with a 74 and Stevenson got quality rounds from James Dvorek (75), Kevin Chin (75) and Alex Kim (79).
"We hope our performance will be at a peak at the end of the season with the acquired experience," Stevenson coach John Rueth said.
Bussell, a sophomore, has stepped in already with a couple of outstanding rounds this season. Monday's included a near-eagle on the seventh hole on which Bussell came close with a 30-yard chip shot before getting birdie on the 494-yard par 5.
"I thought I played well with a few bad shots and missed a few short putts," Bussell said. "I was hitting the ball pretty well. The course was so tight and you need to keep your drive straight. If you don't, you're not going to shoot very well."
Some of the other top scores included Libertyville's Mitch Kenston with even-par 72 and Lake Zurich's Konner Kininmouth with a 76.