Scouting DuPage County boys golf
Top teams: Hinsdale Central, York, Neuqua Valley, Downers Grove North, St. Francis, Waubonsie Valley, Benet, Naperville Central, Wheaton North, Lake Park.
Top athletes: Addison Trail: Jimmy Cerven, jr., Franco Dastis, sr., Blaise Morris, sr.; Benet: Jack Driscoll, jr., Brian Heidkamp, sr., Brian Moran, jr., Charlie Schuster, jr., Jonah Snelling, sr.; Downers Grove North: Finn Grant, sr., Aidan Lafferty, sr., Cooper Marks, sr., Lucas Nielsen, soph.; Downers Grove South: Matt Frauendorff, soph., Matt Garcia, sr., Jake Pileggi, sr., Tommy Staruck, soph.; Fenton: Marcus Astorga, sr., Marco Farrone, sr., Nik Fischer, sr., Matt Janobsky, sr., Mitchell Leffew, sr.; Glenbard East: Matt Guthrie, fr., Ewan Mathie, jr., Ethan Moreau, jr., Nate Naborowski, sr.; Glenbard North: Nick Brun, jr., Nick D'Amone, jr., Nick DeJesus, soph., Cooper Denault, jr., Scott Rimkus, jr.; Glenbard South: Tommy Brennan, sr., Jacob Cyrus, jr., Michael Natahe, jr.; Glenbard West: Colin Malec, jr., Griffin Roscich, jr., John Wild, fr., Nathan Zimner, sr.; Hinsdale Central: Jake Bartuch, jr., Gabe Larsen, sr., Stewart Leigh, jr., Josh Lundmark, sr., Mac McClear, sr.; Hinsdale South: Charlie Gneiser, soph., Peyton Hultmark, sr., Frankie Klemm, sr., Colin Lyster, jr.; IC Catholic Prep: Michael Carpanzano, sr., Michael Hilgart, soph., Thomas Hilgart, sr., Louis Narcisi, jr.; Lake Park: Sam Edgecombe, sr., Will Edgecombe, jr., Jordan Fischer, sr., Zach Place, sr., Tim Rainey, sr.; Lisle: Sam Ford, sr., Damian Guerrero, sr., Joe LaScala, jr., Jacob Trotter, sr.; Metea Valley: Scott Boyajian, sr., Alex Foster, jr., Josh Kerns, fr., Scott Madland, jr., Aman Shah, fr., Arjun Vyas, fr.; Montini: Patrick Burke, r., Guy Carollo, jr., Luke Marciniak, jr., Myles Marciniak, jr., Nick Renfro, jr.; Naperville Central: Jack Busch, soph., Zach Mayo, sr., Ryan Onorati, jr., Rocco Pintozzi, sr., Tyler Schettek, sr.; Naperville North: Dan Boscarino, jr., Kevin Bruce, jr., Will Bruce, jr., Ethan Kilgore, soph., Parker Mullen, jr., Jeff Nelson, sr.; Neuqua Valley: Colin Chromy, sr., Griffin Crose, sr., Chase Dalner, sr., Cameron Sulzer, sr., Aaron Zucker, sr.; St. Francis: Nick Armbrust, sr., Ben Bougadis, sr., Michael Cascella, sr., Adam Cook, sr., Jack Toppen, sr.; Waubonsie Valley: Jake Fritz, jr., Kenny Knicker, sr., Will Troy, jr, Eliott Villeneuve, jr., Alex Wilder, jr.; West Chicago: Bobby Bartlett, sr., Dennis Hoffman, sr., Nathan Rutledge, sr., Tighe Walsh, jr.; Wheaton Academy: Peter Crowe, sr., Jack Dykema, sr., Davis Frank, sr., Graham Head, fr., Thomas Love, sr.; Wheaton North: Cecil Briggs, sr., Sam Gerry, jr., Mark O'Connell, sr., Ian Rollins, sr.; Wheaton Warrenville South: Nicholas Bruns, sr., Dhilan Desai, jr., Tyler Kuta, sr., Cam Polezoes, sr.; Willowbrook: Joey Guthrie, sr., Jackson Hathaway, sr., Logan Rattana, jr., Taylor Sarovich, sr.; York: Sam Bartolone, soph., Matt Buckley, jr., Josh LaBounty, jr., Aidan Mann, sr., Casey O'Malley, sr.
Scouting report: There can little doubt for the preseason No. 1 team among the 28 boys golf programs in DuPage County. Hinsdale Central will seek to win a second straight Class 3A title. When the Iowa-bound McClear anchored the Hinsdale Central 2-shot victory over Lake Forest last fall at the Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington, it marked the sixth straight Class 3A championship for the Red Devils. "It's crazy," Naperville North coach Ryan Hantak said of the Red Devils' state run since 2012. "I could see two or three years in a row, but to do it six years in a row means multiple (graduation) classes."
Hinsdale Central will unquestionably be the team to watch this season as well, not only in its quest to forge a piece of athletic history but also framed by a seeming immunity to graduation losses. McClear, who tied West Suburban Silver rival Lafferty of Downers North for fifth place individually, and Lundmark, also all-state with his tie for eighth, are two of five returning state starters for the Red Devils. "What they are good at is their depth," said Naperville Central coach Barry Baldwin, who tutored his team to its first state appearance in 15 years last fall. "They have six guys who can score. That's what separates them."
Hinsdale Central coach Jess Krueger epitomizes the same even-keel approach many of his players have adopted as the program seeks a 10th consecutive state appearance this fall. "I don't look behind and don't look too far ahead," Krueger said. "(The players) are aware of (the U-High record), but we don't talk about it."
The Silver once again appears to be the epicenter of the largest-class area boys golf landscape. Last fall at the New Trier sectional, Lake Park reversed its Elk Grove regional showing against York to snare the final team slot to Bloomington. But the Dukes figure to be a formidable force as well this season as coach Jim Borel returns five starters -- headlined by individual state qualifier Mann -- as well. The York returnees have a profound collective sense of unfinished business after the Lancers edged them by a mere stroke for third place at New Trier. "That's what is motivating us," said the Dukes' LaBounty. "We don't want the same thing to happen again."
"The West Suburban Conference will represent well at the state level again this season," said Glenbard West coach Paul Hezlett, who will navigate the treacherous waters of the league behind sectional returnee Roscich. "Hinsdale Central, I am sure, will continue to thrive and be successful. (But) I am sure Jim Borel will have something to say." "York is going to be awfully good," Downers North coach Anthony Calderone added. "We have all five guys back," Borel said. "Jess has been doing it for years. (Hinsdale Central) is going to be a good barometer for us. This year should be a good year for us."
The traditional powers in the western part of the county will make new acquaintances. With the departure of Lake Park, Glenbard North and the two Wheaton high schools to the DuKane Conference, the DuPage Valley Conference will transition into a five-team league with Naperville North, Naperville Central and the three Indian Prairie high schools. But there is still potentially plenty of drama along the Route 59 golf breeding ground. "All the schools have really good No. 1s," Baldwin said. "I think that is going to be the thing to watch at the conference tournament."
The Neuqua Valley players can certainly appreciate the heartache York endured at the sectional last fall. For the second straight year, this time at the Glenbard East sectional, the Wildcats were denied a team state bid by the narrowest of margins. "It's a very big motivation for us," said Neuqua Valley top-gun Chromy, a returning state qualifier. "It was so tough to come up that short. It definitely gave me something to work for." With its senior-laden lineup, Neuqua Valley demonstrated its potential firepower with a 3-under 285 team performance at the season-opening Bob Sterr Invitational. But Waubonsie Valley turned back the Wildcats the following day to capture the Naperville City Tournament.
The Warriors' Troy opened the season with a third straight tournament title on Tuesday. "Will Troy is possibly the best player in the area," Hantak said. As a corollary to the opening of the newest prep campaign, it is as if the elite players along the Interstate-88 corridor from Hinsdale to Aurora have had their own spring training. The summer is dotted with major tournaments with invaluable opportunities to engender visibility for prospective collegiate suitors. "I am already in midseason form," Troy said after shooting a 2-over 74 at the Naperville County Club on Tuesday. "I want to play as well as I can and make it to state."
Metea Valley ace Boyajian is also poised for a final push as the reigning West Aurora regional champion cracked the top 20 in Bloomington last October. State veterans Onorati and Schettek figure to power Naperville Central; Mullen is the No. 1 player for Naperville North.
In addition to Lake Park, new DuKane Conference members Wheaton North and WW South advanced to the sectional as a team last fall. "We have very good senior leadership," Wheaton North coach Mike Pribaz said of sectional returnees Briggs, Gerry and O'Connell. "I like what I have." Three-time defending state qualifier Geneva is the class of the Kane County schools in the new league. "It's going to be very positive," WW South coach Jimmy Selleck said of the inclusion of Gemeva, Batavia and the two St. Charles high schools. "These are formidable programs who do well in the invites and postseason." Desai is the Tigers' lone sectional returnee. Place, along with Fischer, were members of the Lancers' eighth-place finish at state last October. "It was an amazing experience," said Place, the Lake Park stalwart who was declared the winner of the rain-shortened Larkin Invitational on Wednesday after touring the Golf Club of Illinois in 3-under. "It is such a confidence boost going down there."
The creation of the DuKane Conference caused the Upstate Eight to scrap its two-division format for a single 10-team league. West Chicago was the surprise Valley tournament champion last year and has high hopes behind its four returning starters. Glenbard South rounds out the new-look Upstate Eight after leaving the Metro Suburban. "My goal is to win conference," Glenbard South coach Phillip Yudys said. "We want to join the new conference and show them what we got."
Freshman Matt Guthrie could very well be the top player for Glenbard East. "He will be my best kid for a while," Glenbard East coach Chris Wienke said. In the West Suburban Gold, Willowbrook could upstage Downers South behind sectional qualifiers Joey Guthrie and Sarovich. As the lone East Suburban Catholic area representative, Benet could be dangerous. "We have a tremendous amount of depth with our junior class," Benet coach Marty Gaughn said. "We can go six, maybe, seven guys deep. Phil and Jonah provide great senior leadership." Among the Class 2A area hopefuls, St. Francis is the gold standard. The Spartans, eighth in state last year, are in search of a fifth trip to Normal in the last six years. "This is possibly the deepest team I have had," St. Francis coach Greg Baresel said. Armbrust, who will sign with Bradley, Bougadis, Cascella and Toppen anchor the senior-laden team as state veterans. "We are definitely relying on our senior leadership to get back to state again," Baresel said. The Spartans hopped on the conference merry-go-round in leaving the Catholic League for the Metro Suburban.
Wheaton Academy will counter the Spartans with Class 2A state qualifier Dykema. Fenton has two sectional returnees in Astorga and Fischer. IC Catholic Prep has one returning starter as Thomas Hilgart was a member of the Knights' Class 1A team that finished fourth at the sectional. "I graduated six last year," IC Catholic Prep coach Don Sujack said. "The (new starters) will have time to develop their games during the course of the season." Lisle senior Guerrero is the Lions' best hope for a postseason individual run. Hinsdale South junior Lyster is a name to remember as the reigning Class 3A state qualifier will compete in 2A this fall after the Hornets were reclassified.
-- Kevin McGavin