POPLAR GROVE – When the team place-winners finally were posted in the cramped clubhouse at Timberpointe Golf Course, Kaneland boys golfers and their fans erupted in cheers.
“I lost my voice yelling,” said the Knights’ Connor Williams. “The wind made us play pretty bad, but compared to everyone else we played well, and that’s all that matters.”
Williams shot a 45 on the back nine to finish with a 93, helping Kaneland place third at the Class 2A Belvidere North Sectional and secure the final qualifying spot for this weekend’s 2A State Tournament at Weibring Golf Club in Normal.
Ottawa won the sectional with a 340, topping Wheaton Academy (348) and Kaneland (352) in the 12-team event.
Matt Yonkovich led Kaneland with an 84. Luke Kreiter (86), Brody Kuhar (89) and Williams also scored for the Knights, who advanced to state as a team for the first time since 1996.
“Even though we didn’t play as well as we would have liked, we’re still proud of ourselves,” Kreiter said. “This is a huge milestone for us and the school. It’s been a long time coming.”
Wheaton Academy was led by Zack Spear, whose 81 was third overall individually. St. Charles resident Danny Gryfinski (87), Grant Gosden (88) and Bobby Teevans (92) followed for the Warriors, who eventually found perspective in their scores on a day when winds whirled at nearly 30 mph.
“Just stay focused that bogeys are not bad today,” Gryfinski said. “You’ve just got to take your medicine today.”
Burlington Central finished sixth with a 365, but Andrew Sherman advanced as an individual with an 85. The Rockets’ Austin Niesel carded an 88 to tie for the 10th and final qualifying spot, but was the last golfer eliminated in a five-man playoff.
Class 2A Nazareth Academy Sectional: At Links at Carillon in Plainfield, St. Francis’ John Stolte (78) and Dan Mochel (81) advanced as individuals to this weekend’s state meet at Weibring Golf Club in Normal.
Class A Genoa-Kingston Sectional: At The Oak Club of Genoa, Rosary’s Victoria Phipps shot 96 to tie for ninth among individuals from non-qualifying teams and advance to this weekend’s state meet at Red Tail Run in Decatur.
• Seth Dulian contributed to this report.