Boys golf: West Suburban Silver teams picking up where they left off
Glenbard West junior John Wild threatened the pinnacle of truly elite status last fall at the Class 3A boys golf state tournament at the Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington.
Wild was the overnight leader of the 36-hole competition after carding a 3-under 69 in first-round action.
Wild, who powered the Hilltoppers to the sectional championship with his level-par 72 on his home course at Village Links, ultimately had to settle for solo third place after his cumulative level-par effort at the Arnold Palmer-designed layout in central Illinois.
"Pressure is what gets it done down the stretch," said Wild, a junior. "That's the difference between a great player and a good player."
"(Wild) has a determined sense of how to compete and get better," Glenbard West coach Paul Hezlett said. "He is a great decision-maker."
The West Suburban Conference Silver Division produced one-fourth of the 12 state-qualifying programs in Bloomington last October.
York edged the Hilltoppers for fourth place; Hinsdale Central, seeing a record eighth consecutive state championship, finished tied for eighth.
All three programs have multiple returning veterans.
The West Suburban athletic directors voted to restrict fall competition to inter- and intra-divisional play between the Silver and Gold.
The coaches and athletes plan to make the most of their abbreviated season.
"First off, I'm just grateful to have a season at all," Wild said. "These times have been confusing."
Adam Klimala and Caden Pierce also return to augment Wild for the Hilltoppers; freshman Grant Rosich has already cast a wide shadow for the Glen Ellyn school as well.
York, behind senior state returnees Sam Bartelone, Joe Bonelli, Connor Polomsky and Zach Sutter, fired a collective 294 at Maple Meadow on Saturday to deny league stalwarts Hinsdale Central (299), Glenbard West (300) and Lyons Twp. (300).
"They are pretty much interchangeable," York coach Jim Borel said of his four seniors. "The good news for us is our conference is second to none. We still have something to shoot for."
The Dukes emerged victorious Saturday when sixth-man Sam Wit, a junior, came home with a 74, enabling Borel to cast off a 79 as his fourth score.
Lake Zurich eyes progress
The Class 3A state tournament is one of the most difficult to qualify for among individual sports subsumed within a team concept.
In 14 years as coach at Lake Zurich, Terry Geoghegan has never advanced to a team sectional and has had a grand total of one individual qualify to state as an at-large competitor.
"The North Suburban (Conference) is so tough with (defending state champion) Lake Forest and Stevenson in it," Geoghegan said.
But the Bears have renewed hopes this fall behind Noah Van Herik, Jake Michalak, Zach Lawler and the lone senior in the top four, Brandan Koester.
"We have a really young team," Geoghegan said. "I am trying to build their confidence."
Geoghegan is one of several coaches throughout the suburbs still harboring ambitions the IHSA will modify its stance on a potential state series following regionals, which will be set up based on COVID regions.
"I hope the IHSA lets the data determine the state tournament," Geoghegan said.
The famed Mid-Suburban League operates as a single entity for boys golf.
Barrington has been the unquestioned standard-bearer for well more than a decade.
"The coach (Mike Kallenbach) before me won (conference) every year, and he was the coach for 14 years," second-year Barrington coach Bryan Tucker said.
Tucker continued the trend in his first season last fall en route to yet another state-qualifying berth in Bloomington.
The Broncos, behind the potent quintet of Ian Bouchard, Dylan Dunne, Owen Naughten, Matt Lee and Walker Grelle, steamrollered their league foes on three separate occasions last week.
Barrington eased past Fremd, Conant, Buffalo Grove and Palatine in a pair of conference triangulars during the school week.
Bouchard carded a 2-over 72 to pace the Broncos' 308-311 triumph over Hersey Saturday at a six-team invitational at Biltmore Country Club in Barrington.
Conant (330), Palatine (359), Schaumburg (370) and Hoffman Estates (426) rounded out the field.
"Everyone is looking at Hersey as the most talented team (in our area)," Tucker said. "Our kids are happy to be playing."
Kaneland marches along
Mark Meyer had grand visions of returning to Normal for the Class 2A state tournament last fall.
But the veteran Kaneland coach had the solace of having the core of his team returning this fall after falling short of a return trip to the Illinois State University home course for a second consecutive appearance last October.
Ryan Milton and Josh Pehl, a senior and junior, respectively, played in the state tournament two years ago for Kaneland.
"We really wanted to see what we could do against the better 2A schools in the state this year," Meyer said.
The Knights were off to a blistering start with one-sided victories in their two Interstate Eight dual matches and a confidence-building triumph at a select invitational at Kishwaukee Country Club in DeKalb.
"I know they are all hoping to have some kind of end to the season," said Meyer, who also returns starters Cody Ganzon, Lucas Pehl and Hagan Rank.