Hersey wins Class 3A boys regional to qualify for sectionals
In a crazy and bizarre year in which up often seems like down and left seems like right, it seems only fitting that an IHSA sectional will actually be kind of like an IHSA "state tournament."
Due to COVID-19 precautions and a hesitancy to amass large groups, the IHSA decided to sponsor a state golf tournament that would include only regionals and sectionals, but no state finals.
So, when Hersey won Tuesday's Class 3A Buffalo Grove boys regional at the Buffalo Grove Golf Club to qualify for the sectional, the Huskies were as excited as they would have been had they qualified for state.
Because, in a sense, they had.
"We just qualified for the state tournament," Hersey boys golf coach Dan Caporusso said excitedly, but with a knowing wink of his eye.
Of course, Caporusso knew that his Huskies had technically qualified for only the Rockford Auburn sectional, which will be held on Monday.
But in this strange year, he's considering the sectional the "be all, end all," because after all, there is nothing after that. The golf season will be over after the sectionals.
"How about this?" Caporusso said with a quick smile. "We just qualified for the "new" state tournament. That's what I'm calling it this year, in 2020. This (sectional) is our state tournament this year, and we just qualified. This is awesome."
Hersey took first place as a team at Buffalo Grove with a 302, seven shots better than second-place Barrington, which finished with a 309. Both teams qualified for the sectional.
Prospect finished in third place with a 312.
The Huskies were led by senior Henry Quinn, who defended his regional title from last year by recording a 69, his same regional championship score from last year.
Tying for second were Hersey's Tyler Irwin and Buffalo Grove's Dori Lee, both of whom shot a 71.
Cole Lannert of Prospect, Ryan Beerheide of Buffalo Grove and Walker Grelle of Barrington tied for fourth place, each with a 74.
"I would like to think there's been a target on my back most of the year and especially today as defending regional champion," Quinn said. "But I just tried to think that I didn't need to prove anything, I just wanted to have fun with it."
The front nine wasn't much fun for Quinn, or the rest of the Huskies for that matter. They all struggled and were rolling up the strokes.
But the back nine was a completely different story.
"When Hersey made the turn at 9, we went from like 7 shots down to like 7 shots ahead in what seemed like a matter of a couple holes.
It was mind-boggling," Caporusso said. "We just had a 14, 15-shot swing in a matter of minutes.
"I think a lot of that is that we've been upping our efforts lately, hitting countless golf balls at practice. We have calluses on top of calluses. It was preparation and talent and work ethic. That's how we came back and beat two of the top teams (Barrington and Prospect) around and advanced to the state tournament.
Caporusso said Quinn, who has earned a golf scholarship to Butler, sets the tone each day with his work ethic.
"He has an unbelievable work ethic," Caporusso said of Quinn. "Saturday nights, Sunday nights, whatever it takes. He's been chipping, putting, you just can't imagine how much work he puts into it. He's the best golfer to ever walk the halls at Hersey High School. He's been a joy to coach."
Caporusso says that Quinn and Irwin have been the team's thoroughbreds this year. They are also very good friends and Irwin couldn't speak highly enough of Quinn, who was unstoppable on the back nine.
"He was having a tough time on the front nine, but he ended up having himself a day," Irwin said. "I'm very proud of him. He never gives up.
"It was great to see because I'm a team player. I love this team. As a captain, I'm very proud of this entire team."
With a 71, Irwin tied for second with Buffalo Grove junior Dori Lee, who said he had his best day of the season on his home course.
He qualified for his second straight state tournament, after doing so last year as a sophomore.
"This was my best round this year and I'm happy to do it at the regionals," Lee said. "This is probably the best I've played in high school.
"The greens were really nice and balls were spinning on the greens and the course condition was the best it's been all year."
Even though Buffalo Grove didn't qualify for the Rockford sectional as a team, Lee did as an individual, as did Lannert, Beerheide and Brandon Koestner of Lake Zurich, who shot a 77.