Boys golf: Geneva earns DuKane Conference title
Geneva did not look like a team playing in its first 18-hole competition of the season during Tuesday's DuKane Conference boys golf meet at Bartlett Hills Golf Club in Bartlett.
With six Vikings turning in rounds between 77 and 82, Geneva (315) was able to hold off Lake Park (321) and Wheaton Warrenville South (322). Batavia (338) was fourth.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the conference meet was split in half with the top four squads competing on Tuesday and Glenbard North, St. Charles East, St. Charles North and Wheaton North completing the conference meet on Thursday.
"We've been very fortunate this year in being a pretty deep team," Geneva coach Eric Hatczel said. "The first couple tee times we had a couple decent scores and a couple guys struggling and there was kind of a question mark on where we would fall. But we had a few guys sort of toward the middle of our order and later tee times that played really well and kind of helped push our team score down and put us in a good position to the group finishing on Thursday."
The Vikings boast a lot of experience with seniors Zach Padgett, who shot 77, Cal McKittrick (79), Tommy Sewczwicz (79) and Sam Pospisil (80) and sophomore Jesse Balc (80) contributing key scores.
Padgett praised his putter, which was a modern day Billy Baroo and for a change in attitude, which was brought upon by reading Jon Gordon.
"My putting (stinks), but my putter was working today," Padgett said. "I was dropping bombs and that kept me in today for sure. I read this book called 'The Coffee Bean.' It's inspirational. It's helped with my attitude. I was a lot more positive today."
Certainly hitting good shots and knocking down putts helps, while having past experiences the past four seasons also is a huge asset.
"With a lot of us being seniors we can bank on that experience that we've been here before and played conference and played downstate last year," McKittrick said. "We knew it would be tight against these teams, but a big strength of our team is any one of us can step up on any given day and that's what we did today."
That includes Sewczwicz, who tied for fourth-best round of the day as the Vikings No. 7 guy.
"He was great today," Hatczel said. "And it's one of those things that he knows where he can pick up a few additional shots and it's exciting when players know and realize their abilities. It's all good stuff for future weeks."
As his teammates joked that he might have to come back for a fifth year, Sewczwicz patiently explained that it's always better to play a full 18 -- even if the Vikings hadn't done it as a team since last fall.
"It feels better than playing nine and you have more time to make up for mistakes and everything," Sewczwicz said. "If you have one bad hole here or there you can make up for it later in the round and go from there."
Lake Park senior Matt Lesniak and Wheaton Warrenville South senior Ben Klimenko did their best to lead their teams past Geneva, tying for medalist honors, each carding a 5-over-par 76.
The Lancers and Vikings entered play undefeated, so the front nine served as a conference meet as well with the Vikings winning that 153-156.
"A 153 is a great score so beating that any day on any course is tough so kudos to them," Lesniak said. "But I'm definitely proud of my team. I think the 156 was our lowest team round for nine holes this year."
Lesniak praised his front nine and ability to answer adversity with positives.
"I double (bogeyed) one hole but birdied the next," Lesniak said. "I kind of struggled at the end, but kind of grinded it out. I was definitely happy with the performance."
Sophomore Josh Lahner and senior John Menconi each carded an 81 and freshman Adin Choksi contributed an 83 for the Lancers.
The Tigers had six players finish between 81 and 86. In addition to Klimenko pacing them, senior Thomas Foley had an 81, junior Danny Zawoyski finished with an 82 and senior Aidan McCoyd followed with an 83.
"Looking back, I know I personally had a couple shots I wish I could have back," Klimenko said. "In talking to a lot of the team, we just didn't play as well as we would have liked. We were close today and we knew Lake Park and Geneva would be good. We've been playing really good in matches so we're still looking forward to regionals on Tuesday."
The young Bulldogs had four players break 90, including sophomore Gavin Newkirk who led the team with an 80. Senior Anthony Carrano finished with an 83, freshman Jimmy Haug scored an 87 and junior Brady Krol totaled an 88.
"It wasn't our best day today, but I think we're feeling good for regionals," Newkirk said. "I liked my driving and ball striking, but I just need to learn how to make a putt."
In a way, being able to be a part of the upper echelon of the DuKane is a victory in itself for the Bulldogs.
"I think our team is good about having fun and letting things go," Newkirk said. "We have a really young team and are just trying to get some experience this year so making it into the top half was really a good accomplishment for us."