Golf: Hinsdale Central, Wheaton Academy, IC Catholic Prep earn golf hardware
Eric Flodberg has been around a former state champion while leading Waubonsie Valley to multiple regular-season and playoff championships.
Flodberg had high hopes for his lone entrant -- sophomore superstar Salil Khanduja -- replicating the accomplishment of Thomas O'Bryan, who claimed the Class 3A 2010 state championship at the Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington in a two-hole playoff.
Khanduja was seemingly in contention after a first-round 70.
But Flodberg, the Warriors' frosh-soph coach when O'Bryan emerged victorious, was simply incredulous -- as were several of his counterparts -- by what he witnessed in central Illinois this weekend.
"The scoring is as good as I have ever seen it," Flodberg said. "People who have played in the state tournament before are going to be shocked at the scores the boys shot. It was amazing."
Khanduja, who won the Metea Valley regional to augment two city championships as well as top honors in the DuPage Valley Conference, could not even garner all-state status with a two-day, 1-over 145 aggregate score. The Warriors' underclass star was two spots out of the all-state conversation with his 12th-place tie.
Glenbrook North finished 1-under as a team (575) to deny fellow North Shore powerhouse New Trier by 3 shots. The schools were a combined 12-under with their matching 6-under totals after Day 1 play.
Glenbrook North also featured the individual champion Jason Gordon, who toured the famed Arnold Palmer par-72 layout with rounds of 68 and 69 (137).
Hinsdale Central, two years removed from having its record-tying seventh consecutive title run snapped, earned a 10th career trophy for coach Jess Krueger.
With its third-place 592, courtesy of a second-round 293 to aid a first-day 289, the Red Devils, who have failed to qualify only once -- 2009 -- since Krueger inherited the job in 2006, earned bragging rights over West Suburban Silver rival Glenbard West. The Hilltoppers had a 1-shot advantage over Hinsdale Central after Friday, only to leave Saturday empty-handed with their 596 total.
John Wild, the Hilltoppers' Oklahoma State-bound senior star who finished solo third at the last-conducted largest-class tournament two years ago as a sophomore, was fourth with his 1-under 143 total. Grant Roscich was also all-state for Glenbard West as his level-par two-day gross of 144 secured an eighth-place tie.
Hinsdale Central was not the only local program to leave with a hard-earned plaque.
At the Class 2A tournament in Normal on the Illinois State University home layout, Wheaton Academy had a collective second-day 306 to finish third at 603. St. Ignatius denied Benton, which featured the individual champion in junior Cy Norman, 585-594 for the state title.
Norman had the ultimate one-two punch with a 66-68 flurry (an 8-under 134) to deliver a knockout against Sam Dykema and Jacksonville senior Brady Kauffmann.
But Dykema not only had the solace of a runner-up result but also the undeniable leader for the Warriors.
It was the first state hardware for Wheaton Academy since the program shared the 2009 title with Normal U-High, the legendary power which shares the consecutive title run at seven with Hinsdale Central.
"We thought we had a chance for second," Wheaton Academy coach Bob Broman said. "We really like the course at Illinois State University."
"Nothing was prefect, but I played very solid (golf)," Dykema said. "I got within one shot of (Norman) at one point. But then he just took exception."
IC Catholic Prep, on the other hand, was terribly ambivalent after earning its first state plaque -- a third-place distinction -- at the Class 1A tournament at Prairie Vista in Bloomington.
Two shots separated the first three teams as Vandalia (314) finished at 614; North Shore County Day (309) was runner-up at 615, and the Knights, who ended their season with a 312, settled for a painful bronze at 616.
"Over 620 shots, you can't pinpoint anything because it was everything," IC Catholic coach Don Sujack said. "That brass ring was within inches of our grasp. We let it slip out of our fingers. We are pretty down right now."
Jann Atendido not only led the Knights but was also all-state with his ninth-place tie (151).
Further south in the Decatur area, Neuqua Valley was making its first team appearance at the girls state tournament since it was a single-class affair in Normal in 2002.
Like the 3A boys, the scores at the girls 2A tournament only seem to evaporate as a greater number of skilled athletes infiltrate the game.
John Keller, the only coach in Neuqua Valley, history readily admits his current squad, which technically missed the team cut on Friday at Hickory Point, crafts scores entirely lower than his 2000 state runner-up unit could muster.
"Scores are crazy," said Keller, who was as stunned as his male counterparts in Bloomington. "The top level of girls is amazing in how they score."
Keller was particularly stunned Hinsdale Central could not even earn any state glory with its highly coveted consistency of 314 and 313. But the Red Devils had to settle for fourth place with their 627 total.
Barrington, which had the individual champion in Mara Janess, reversed its loss to Stevenson from 2019 with a 595-610 result. Loyola was third at 612.
Hinsdale Central freshman sensation Elyssa Abdullah tied Division-I recruits Reese Clark (Geneva) and Catie Nekola (St. Charles North) with a 3-over 147 for fourth.
Sarah Zheng, the two-time DuPage Valley Conference champion for Neuqua Valley, was top 20 with her 75 and 76.
"Nothing was rolling off the tees," Zheng said of the wet but warm conditions. "I definitely left some putts out there. I wish there were a few things that went better."
At the Class 1A tournament in Decatur, St. Francis was eighth.