Boys golf: Stevenson continues to excel for Rueth
Every day, for at least a half an hour, Stevenson interim boys golf coach Dale Bares talks to his mentor.
That would be John Rueth.
"I call him 'The Godfather,' " Bares said. "He lives for golf. He knows everything. He's the man."
Rueth, Stevenson's coach for nearly two decades and a former collegiate golfer at Wisconsin, is ill. While Rueth is "on the road to recovery," Bares says, he has not been coaching this first month of the high school season, and there is no timetable for his return.
His Patriots, who finished third in the Class 3A state tournament last fall, continue to play good golf in his absence. Led by senior Mark Noonan's 2-under-par 34 Tuesday, Stevenson shot a 147 in beating host Mundelein by 14 strokes in a North Suburban Conference match on Steeple Chase Golf Club's soggy front nine.
"He came out to Kemper (Lakes Golf Club) last week," Bares, whose team practices at Kemper Lakes on Fridays, said of Rueth. "The guys miss him, and they love having him around."
The Patriots know they're in good hands with Bare, a 2009 graduate of Stevenson and former hockey player for the Patriots. He's in his second season with the program, after serving as JV coach last season.
"It's obviously harder (without Rueth), but we got a great assistant in Coach Bares," senior and Bucknell University commit Jackson Bussell said. "Coach Rueth will be back. We've seen him a few times and he's looking a lot better."
Stevenson (3-0 NSC) showed its depth against Mundelein (2-2 NSC), which carded an uncharacteristic 161 on its home course.
"It's been many years since we shot this high out here," Mustangs coach Todd Parola said. "We got to figure some things out."
Josh Peterson was Mundelein's only golfer to break 40, as he fired a 39 (3 bogeys). Tanner Anderson had a 40, while Trevor Neumaier and Parker Geary shot matching 41s. All four golfers teed it up in the postseason last fall for a Mustangs squad that placed fourth in the sectional.
"No, (the 161) is not Mundelein-like," said Peterson, a state qualifier last year. "The past week or so has been rough. But it's getting there. We're still trying to get back to what we were."
Medalist Noonan birdied holes 1, 6 and 8. He hit 9-iron approaches within 15 and 8 feet on Nos. 1 and 6, respectively, and landed a gap wedge within 12 feet on the eighth. He bogeyed the par-3 seventh.
The senior, who said the course was in good shape despite the heavy rains in recent days, also shot a 34 at Village Green this season.
"I've been playing well," Noonan said. "I've been putting really well. (My game) all depends on my ball-striking, but I think I'm making progress."
Stevenson senior Alex Kim came in with a 35, while Bussell and sophomore Billy Fishbein each had a 39. Bussell, the defending state champ, said he didn't play up to his usual standards. He knocked his tee shot out of bounds on No. 3 and dropped to 4 over, before playing the last six holes in 1 under (2 birdies, 1 bogey).
"Wedge work wasn't ideal (early)," Bussell said. "After that, I slowed my swing down."
Bares wasn't surprised by the Patriots' performance, which also included sophomore Conan Pan's 40 and junior Andrew Babbo's 42.
"These are some of the smartest, best golfers you'll see out here," Bares said. "Our swings are very rhythmic and beautiful. It's just about corralling them, getting them in the right place and just telling them how to attack the course."
Rueth might say the same thing.