Boys golf: Scouting the Fox Valley

  • Geneva's Tyler Isenhart is one of the top returning boys golfers in the state this season.

      Geneva's Tyler Isenhart is one of the top returning boys golfers in the state this season. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Jacobs' Garrett Tighe finished tied for 14th place at the state finals last season.

      Jacobs' Garrett Tighe finished tied for 14th place at the state finals last season. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/16/2018 9:58 PM

Aurora Central CatholicCoach: Mike Cowan

Last season: 7-3, 5-3; fourth in the Metro Suburban Blue; second at Class 2A Burlington Central regional; 12th at Grayslake Central sectional.


Top athletes: Nathan Turco, Jr, Austin Miller, sophomore, John Wojcik, so., David Bartlett, Jr, Shane Miller, Jr, Ryan Miller, Jr, Jack Lentz, so., Tyler Hager, so.

Outlook: Turco is the heart and soul of the Chargers' program. "He should have made it to state last year," Cowan said of the junior. "That's the nature of high school golf. Nate was the player of the year in our side of the conference." Miller is the only other returnee of the Chargers' runner-up regional team from Burlington Central. Aurora Central will be hard-pressed in its conference this year as longtime former league rival St. Francis -- with back-to-back state appearances -- joins the Metro Suburban Conference with four returning starters. ACC will need its former frosh-soph players to make strides this fall.

Aurora ChristianCoach: Andy Zorger

Last season: 4-5, 3-2; third in the Northeastern Athletic Conference; seventh at Class 1A Byron regional.

Top athletes: Ricky Hochsprung, sr., Gabe LaPapa, sr., Zach Wilson, Jr

Top newcomer: Drew Otten, sr.

Outlook: The vagaries of having a small student body can be exposed in a heartbeat. Zorger can certainly appreciate the difficulties of fielding a competitive athletic squad with barely more than triple figures of potential male applicants. Two years ago, Aurora Christian nearly ascended to the top of the Class 1A state golf world with its runner-up finish. But it is almost a cruel memory as Division I recruits Devin Johnson and Brett Seward are long gone. Zorger faced uncertainly in the opening week of tryouts. "Unless we have some freshmen, it is going to really hard (to field an entire team)," Zorger said. But at least the Eagles have two state-experienced players in Hochsprung and LaPapa. The seniors were both starters for Aurora Christian two years ago in Bloomington. "The good thing about (state) golf is the individual tournament," Zorger said.

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BartlettCoach: Jim Dinkheller

Last season: 4-2, 4-0; Upstate Eight Valley champion; seventh at the Class 3A Geneva regional.

Top athletes: Justin Everson, sr., Matt Alberts, sr., Sam DiPerte, sr., Max Lewis, sr., Tom Clement, Jr, Max Cano, Jr

Outlook: The Hawks will seek to continue their league success, albeit in an entirely different arrangement as the Upstate Eight divisions have been scrapped with the departure of Batavia, Geneva and the two St. Charles high schools. "We are old, but we are young," Dinkheller said of a relatively veteran lineup that has little collective varsity experience -- with the notable exception of Everson and Alberts -- in major competition. "We need to be more consistent than we have shown so far (this season). If we hit the ball well, we seem to play pretty well." Everson was the Hawks' lone Glenbard East sectional qualifier last fall.

BataviaCoach: Tim DeBruycker

Last season: 4-3, 3-3; third in the Upstate Eight River; third at the Class 3A Geneva regional; 12th at the Glenbard East sectional.

Top athletes: Will Huber, sr., Ari Fragen, Jr, Ryan Ingold, Jr, Jake Kleist, Jr, Colin Koske, sr., Griffin Unterberg, sr., Bryan Laurisa, Jr, Ben Grizaffi, Jr


Outlook: The Bulldogs will be charter members of the DuKane Conference, essentially an amalgamation of the DuPage Valley and Upstate Eight leagues this fall. "We see them all the time and know how good they are," Wheaton North coach Mike Pribaz said of Batavia, Geneva St. Charles East and St. Charles North joining forces with Wheaton Warrenville South, Lake Park, Glenbard North and the Falcons. Half of the Bulldogs' sectional-qualifying squad at Glenbard East -- Huber, Fragen and Unterberg -- return this fall. "We are going to try to be competitive in a very deep DuKane Conference," DeBruycker said.

Burlington CentralCoach: Tom Davies

Last season: 3-4, 3-2 in the Kishwaukee River Conference; fourth at the Class 2A Burlington Central sectional.

Top athletes: Michael Sernett, sr., Jack Oller, sr., Jake Bettancourt, Jr, Tyler Didomenico, so., Jonathan Gouriotis, Jr, Matt Bazukas, Jr, Trent Shockey, Jr

Top newcomer: Tyson Malak, FR.

Outlook: Like many of his counterparts, Davies has one overriding objective. "I definitely think conference is in play," Davies said. "I expect to go out with a bang and win the KRC." The Rockets will join the Fox Valley Conference after the current school year ends. Sernett is the one Central player with significant postseason experience after advancing to Grayslake Central last fall in the sectional tournament as an at-large qualifier. Davies is optimistic the Rockets will have greater depth than a season ago. "We should have five kids who could flirt with shooting under 80," Davies said. "I expect to be at the sectional (as a team)."

Cary-GroveCoach: Chris Gotsch

Last season: 6-4, 5-3; fourth in the Fox Valley Conference; third at the Class 3A Woodstock North regional; 10th at the Warren sectional.

Top athletes: Pat Tobin, sr., Trevor Brandon, sr., Trevor Beaugureau, Jr, Cole Seeger, Jr, Michael Greenhill, Jr, Joey Vitullo, so.

Outlook: Gotsch has every reason to be confident of a potential breakthrough behind returning sectional qualifiers Tobin and Brandon. "I feel like every year they are getting better and better," Gotsch said. "I feel like they can take the next step (in the state series). (Brandon) has got the talent to get there." The value of day-to-day competition in a rugged conference bore fruit when the Trojans placed higher at their regional than at the conference tournament.

Crystal Lake SouthCoach: Curt Wadlington

Last season: 7-3, 5-2; third in the Fox Valley Conference; Class 3A Woodstock North regional champion; ninth at Warren sectional.

Top athletes: John Lishschynsky, Jr, Ricky Falbo, so., Casey Hunter, sr., Will Stewart, so., Griffin Coakley, sr., Ethan Wiggs, Jr

Outlook: Wadlington has a luxury few coaches can claim from a reigning regional champion: the entire six-man playoff roster returns this fall. "We are very fortunate to have the whole group back," Wadlington said. "Overall, I think we're going to be very competitive." Lishschynsky was the pivotal figure for the Gators' regional championship with the individual title at Woodstock North. It was the first postseason team championship in CL South program history. But Wadlington has different designs on a potential sectional berth this season. "We just ran into a buzz-saw (at Warren)," he said.

Dundee-CrownCoach: Bob Sweeney

Last season: 3-5, 3-5; fifth in Fox Valley Conference; fourth at the Clas.s 3A Woodstock North regional.

Top athletes: Matt McQuillen, Jr, Jake Birlin, so., Alex Matsas, so., Caiden Lukan, sr., Kyle Huber, Jr, Ryan Girard, so., Jaxon Field, sr., Ben Bartelt, sr.

Outlook: Sweeney enters the season without any illusions. "We are going to rely heavily on those three guys," he said of McQuillen, Birlin and Matsas. "They have worked on their games." There is no secret recipe to success in prep boys golf, and Sweeney is well-aware of a central requirement. "Consistency is going to be a big key," Sweeney said. "That's what we're looking for. The better teams have six guys who can score. That's what Jacobs and (six-time defending state champion) Hinsdale Central have." McQuillen is the Chargers' returning player to make the sectional cut at Warren last fall.

Elgin AcademyCoach: Tom Schneider

Last season: 4-5, 2-4; fifth in the Independent School League; eighth at the Class 1A Byron regional.

Top athletes: Johnny Yavari, so., Jack Peak, sr.

Top newcomers: Jonathan Vogt, FR., Nikiel Karna, FR., Alex Berlin, FR.

Outlook: Schneider also has major limitations in the numbers department as the coach of small private school who relies on both genders to field a full lineup. But the coach has some new blood this fall. "We've got some great depth with the new freshman class," Schneider said. The Hilltoppers' season began with a baptism by fire at the 16-team Larkin Invitational on Wednesday at the Golf Club of Illinois. "We really competed in this (Larkin tournament) with some big schools," Schneider said. "We were only 10 shots out of fifth place." Yavari is the class of the program, despite his underclass status.

ElginCoach: Garrett Mazade

Last season: 2-9, 2-4; sixth in the Upstate Eight River; eighth at the Class 3A Geneva regional.

No information available on this season.

GenevaCoach: Eric Hatczel

Last season: 6-1, 5-1; Upstate Eight River champion; Class 3A Geneva regional champion; third at Glenbard East sectional; seventh at state tournament.

Top athletes: Tyler Isenhart, sr., Jack McDonald, sr., Quin McNeive, so., Carter Williams, so., Joe Novak, sr., Will Klaus, sr., Cole Haberek, sr., Nathan Dalton, Jr, Jacob Fleming, Jr

Outlook: Isenhart and McDonald have a chance to become singular athletes in program history. The two seniors have been starters on three consecutive Class 3A state-qualifying teams for the Vikings as Isenhart, bound for Baylor, is one of top players in the state after back-to-back third-place results in Bloomington. "It's a bittersweet year," Hatczel said. "You have (Isenhart and McDonald) only one more year. They are absolutely dynamite young men." The Vikings' central issue this fall will almost certainly be the supporting cast. The other four state veterans from the latest Geneva postseason lineup all graduated. Hatczel will counter with a proven tactic. "We have upgraded our (tournament) schedule," Hatczel said. McNeive, Williams, Novak and Klaus enter the season as Vikings' most likely candidates to fill the four regional slots for Geneva.


Coach: Jeff Howe

Last season: 1-8, 0-7; eighth in Fox Valley Conference; sixth at Class 3A Woodstock North regional.

Top athletes: Mark Spitzer, sr., Craig Bracke, sr., Justin Heusmann, sr., Alec Korabik, Jr, Bobby Stephenson, Jr, Aaron Stagzewski, sr.

Outlook: The Whip-Purs can only improve after going winless in the Fox Valley Conference last season. "I would certainly like to get four guys to the sectional," Howe said of his long-term ambitions. "I think I have four guys who can do that. My (ultimate) hope would be a trip to the state tournament." The Whips failed to qualify an individual to the Warren sectional last fall.

Harvest Christian

Coach: Jeff Boldog

Last season: 10-1, 5-0; Northeastern Athletic Conference champion; tied for fourth at Class 1A Byron regional.

Top athletes: Brant Young, sr., Jack Nohawa, sr., Nolan Boyce, sr., Joey Louise, so., Zach Boldog, Jr, Nate Boldog, Jr, Adam Skolozynski, so.

Outlook: Boldog cannot wait for the new campaign to start. "We had a lot of program records last year," Boldog said of a first conference championship, a new benchmark for dual-meet wins and the Lions' highest regional finish. "We would love to have a team qualify for a sectional." Harvest will also have options in its varsity lineup with the likes of juniors Matthew Hoffmeister and Adam Skulozynski as well as sophomore Joey Louise.


Coach: Collin Kalamatis

Last season: 3-5, 3-4; sixth in the Fox Valley; fifth at the Class 3A Woodstock North regional.

Top athletes: Garrett Heinke, sr., Michael Runsey, sr., Jack Wagner, sr., Jake Burnquist, sr., Trevor Book, so.

Top newcomer: Trevor Wolinski, so.

Outlook: The Red Raiders will look to make the next logical step this season. "This is my third year in the program, and it's the highest expectations we have had," Kalamatis said. "We have had a very high-competitive team." Much will be expected of Heinke and Runsey, the Raiders' at-large sectional qualifiers to Warren last October. " (Heinke) is going to be pretty special," Kalamatis predicted. Kalamtatis is also banking on continued maturation from returning seniors Wagner and Burnquist as well.


Coach: Gary Conrad

Last season: 9-0, 7-0; Fox Valley Conference champion; second at the Class 3A Woodstock North regional; sixth at the Warren sectional.

Top athletes: Garrett Tighe, sr., Jarod Gray, sr., Eric Schutt, so., Jordan Stone, Jr

Top newcomer: Ryan Frantik, so.

Outlook: As one of only two at-large Class 3A state qualifiers from the area last fall, Tighe had nothing to lose on the final day of the season at the Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington. "The goal was to win a state championship," Conrad said. Playing aggressive on his final nine holes, Tighe had a mental mistake in coming home with an ultimate tie for 14th place. Tighe will have one final chance at state glory. "He is good enough to win (state)," Conrad said. Jacobs had an undefeated dual-meet season last fall, and Conrad is confident Schutt can augment Tighe on a regular basis. "He is definitely going to be a major contributor," Conrad said of his prized sophomore.


Coach: Mark Meyer

Last season: 6-2, 5-1; second in the Northern Illinois Big XII East; Class 2A Burlington Central regional champion; fourth at the Grayslake Central sectional.

Top athletes: Will Marshall, sr., Ryan Milton, so., Bryce Stair, Jr, Michael Partoll, Jr, Kyle Healy, Jr, Max Drancik, Jr

Outlook: Marshall had a sophomore postseason to forget after failing to qualify for the Class 2A state tournament following an individual regional championship. But the Knights' star senior has more than made amends in his first and third seasons in Maple Park. Marshall has twin top-five finishes as a freshman and junior. "He's been so good for us for so long," Meyer said of his uncommitted senior. "He has been looking forward to this year since the end of the last season." The Knights are in a prime position to land in Normal as a team the designated sectional host. Milton is the top Class 2A player in the area after also earning top-18 status last year at the Illinois State University course.


Coach: Steve Knapp

Last season: 1-11, 1-5; fifth in the Upstate Eight River; ninth at the Class 3A Woodstock North regional.

Top athletes: Jake Ramos, Jr, Devin Arendt, Jr

Top newcomers: Thomas Woodruff, Jr

Outlook: Knapp inherits the program from Tim Jones, who directed the Royals to five Class AA state berths in the 1990s. But Ramos and Arendt are the only players in the program with any experience. "I want to get better," Ramos said at the Royals' invitational on Wednesday. "We might not win a whole lot, but maybe some of us can make it to the sectional." Knapp intends to field at least a minimum four-man team with the inclusion of an undisclosed freshman. "It's his first year playing golf," Knapp said of Woodruff. "He has really improved."


Coach: Russ Huggins

Last season: 3-2, 0-1; fourth in the Chicago Catholic League; Class 3A West Aurora regional champion; 11th at Glenbard East sectional.

Top athletes: Peter Thayer, sr., Austen Velasquez, sr., Will Barnhart, sr., Jack Barnhart, sr., Cole Rainforth, sr., Dominic Czerwinski, Jr

Top newcomer: Charlie Burke, FR.

Outlook: Velasquez is the Cadets' final link to a Class 2A state runner-up team from two seasons ago. Thayer moved in after the 2016 season but will be slotted as the No. 1 player for Marmion this fall. "I think Pete and Austen are going to be our one-two punch," Huggins said. "We'll see who else rises to the top. The Cadets have a peculiar schedule as Fenwick is its lone Catholic League dual. But Huggins hopes to toughen his squad with three top-notch nonconference matches at the Aurora Country Club. Huggins embraces the future. "It is probably the best fresh-soph squad we have ever had," he said.

South Elgin

Coach: Gordon Brown

Last season: 4-5, 2-2 third in the Upstate Eight Valley; sixth at the Class 3A Geneva regional.

Top athletes: Dilan Patel, Jr, Zach Rybczyk, Jr, Tyler Altman, so., Jacob Zipparro, Jr, Sam Shepard, sr., Griffin Carey, so.

Top newcomer: Nick Zaimins, FR.

Outlook: Brown has a difficult task this fall. "We lost all of our seniors," he said. "We are hoping for the best." Juniors Patel and Rybczyk will carry the burden as the top-two players for the Storm this fall. Brown said Shepard will be instrumental for his senior leadership. "I am hoping to have some success and build on next season."

St. Charles East

Coach: John Stock

Last season: 7-0, 6-0; second in the Upstate Eight River; second at the Class 3A Geneva regional; fifth at the Glenbard East sectional.

Top athletes: Chris Petri, so., Joey Dunklau, Jr, Jacob Navarro, sr., David Griggs, Jr, Ryan Kelly, sr., Jake Dreschler, so., Casey Makowski, Jr, Bennett Mortensen, so.

Outlook: Stock enters the season in the unusual position of having an underclassman, Petri, as his top-ranked player. "We are young and inexperienced," Stock said. "Never in 19 years (as a coach) have I had a sophomore (play No. 1). We're just trying to get better." The Saints have bid adieu to their decadeslong affiliation with the Upstate Eight to join the DuKane Conference, but Stock said, "I'm just glad Batavia, Geneva and (St. Charles) North are going to be with us."

St. Charles North

Coach: Justin Moriarty

Last season: 6-2, 4-2; fourth in the Upstate Eight River; fourth at the Class 3A Geneva regional.

Top athletes: Tanay Abichandani, sr., Brandon Seymour, sr., Austin Ams, sr., Matt Gibson, sr., Ryan Graff, sr., Alex Lilly, so., Evan Suyak, so., Ethan Ring, Jr

Outlook: Moriarty is also looking forward to the composition of the new league. With various Upstate Eight programs struggling to field an entire team, Moriarty welcomes the stability of the DuKane. But, even more important, Moriarty with his well-rounded athletes. "I can't speak high enough about the types of kids we have in the program," Moriarty said. "We are going to try and use golf to further their high school experience." Abichandani is the North Stars' most seasoned player, but he expects critical contributions from sophomores Lilly and Suyak.

St. Edward

Coach: Greg Winters

Last season: regular-season duals and conference finish unavailable; fifth at the Class 2A Burlington Central regional.

Top athletes: Tom McQueeny, so., Michael Mindykowski, Jr, Oliver Inciong, Jr, Alec Dunbar, sr., Ethan Hayward, so.

Top newcomer: Charlie McQueeny, FR.

Outlook: Winters is on hiatus this fall while recovering from a bicycle accident. The Green Wave continue to make the adjustment to Class 2A after being elevated due to the private-school multiplier in recent years. Tom McQueeny and Inciong competed at the Grayslake Central sectional last fall as individual qualifiers. Mindykowski is searching for a breakout year. "A lot of practice and dedication," Mindykowski said of his current regimen. "I am really focusing on my game. I believe the team can make it to the (Kaneland) sectional."


Coach: Rob Wise

Last season: 1-7, 0-6; seventh in the Upstate Eight River; ninth at the Class 3A Geneva regional.

Top athletes: Nick Rottman, sr., Cameron Kirk, sr., Travis Baer, Jr, Jake Zolnierczyk, so.

Top newcomer: Michael Olman, FR.

Outlook: Rottman will have the distinction of being the Sabres' most recognizable player this fall. "I think he can be all-conference,' Wise said of his top-returning senior. Kirk will also be relied upon to show consistency in his final season. But Wise, who enters the season with five varsity players, has concerns. "These (other) guys are pretty fresh (to the sport)," he said.

West Aurora

Coach: John Proczko

Last season: 5-4, 4-1; third in Upstate Eight Valley; sixth at Class 3A West Aurora regional.

Top athletes: Ryan Vanderway, sr., Gabe Phillips, sr., Sam Arsenault, sr., Zach Ulm, Jr, Sam Walker, Jr, Nate Meiers, Jr

Outlook: West Aurora boys have been playing organized golf since the Great Depression. But Vanderway, according to the most up-to-date records, could become the first three-time state qualifier in West Aurora history. He and Jacobs' Garrett Tighe are the only returning Class 3A individual state qualifiers from the Fox Valley area. "We want (Vanderway) to build on his success," Proczko said of his three-time conference tournament champion and two-time league MVP. "He doesn't take (the sport) lightly. We are in a very tough sectional (South Elgin is the host at Bartlett Hills)." Ulm also has sectional experience for the Blackhawks, who will host the regional for a third straight year this fall. The Blackhawks figure to be contenders -- in their final season -- in the new-look single, 10-team Upstate Eight.

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