Boys golf: Waubonsie Valley mounts epic comeback at DVC tourney
It was as if Waubonsie Valley were playing a different golf course than its DuPage Valley Conference brethren.
But Thursday afternoon the Warriors' boys program was more than masterful on a wind-swept day at Blackberry Oaks in Bristol at the league championship tournament.
Waubonsie Valley, fourth entering the tournament on the basis of its conference dual-match record, tamed the capricious conditions with ease while taking no prisoners.
The Warriors' triumvirate of Salil Khanduja, Neil Gupta and Kenton Esch had a three-man, sudden-death playoff to crown the medalist as the former outlasted Gupta on the second extra hole after Esch was eliminated on the first of the two par-4s played.
Arjun Iyengar made it a clean Waubonsie Valley sweep of the top-four slots as the sophomore was one shot above his teammates' 3-over 75.
Caiden Atwater was eighth for the Warriors with his 78 -- and his score was discarded for posterity.
In the process, the Warriors' systematic destruction of the field with a 301 not only avenged regular-season losses to Neuqua Valley (319), Naperville Central (327) and Metea Valley (328), but also enabled the squad to claim their first DVC title in three years.
Neuqua Valley, Naperville Central and previously undefeated league leader Metea Valley all finished in a tie for second in the overall standings.
Naperville North (342) and DeKalb (365) retained their status quo with respective fifth- and sixth-place finishes.
"The mindset was definitely that we had seen a lot of improvement over the season," said Khanduji, who added a conference championship to augment earlier equally prestigious Aurora and Naperville city titles. "Everyone had shown a score that if we were all on, on the same day, that we would be able to do what we did today. That's exactly what we did."
Khanduji drilled a 135-yard approach shot into a two-club wind to birdie the 18th hole to join his teammates in the playoff.
"The wind conditions were brutal," Gupta said. "The first couple of holes I was hitting everything short. I hit a lot of greens once I figured out the formula for getting through the wind."
The conference tournament served as a critical dress rehearsal as the entire field -- minus DeKalb -- will return to the Metea Valley Class 3A regional at Orchard Valley in Aurora on Thursday.
"The way we have been playing the last couple of weeks we're just improving and getting better," said Esch. "All of it is coming together at the right time. We are feeling dangerous going into the regional."
"It's kind of like a Cinderella story," Neuqua Valley senior Alex Cross said of the Warriors' exploits. "They stepped up on a day when it mattered."
Mason Dentzman (77) and Cross (78) paced the Wildcats with their sixth-and seventh-place performances.
Naperville Central had Harvey Wang, 77, solo fifth, and Ben Anderson, ninth with a 79, also break 80.
"It was just a grind out there," Wang said. "We stayed mentally strong, and I think that is the biggest take-away."
Aman Shah had an 80 to lead Metea Valley.
"It's not going to take away from what the boys did in the regular season," Metea Valley coach Pat Brusveen said. "We have had a lot more good than bad."