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Prep golf insider: Heading in the right direction

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 5:31 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Karen Naess for Shaw Media)
Kaneland senior Matt Yonkovich is one of two returning scorers from last season's conference tournament champion.

With just more than a week to go until the Oct. 2 Northern Illinois Big 12 meet at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club in La Salle, Kaneland has happily welcomed a reinforcement bent on helping the Knights to their fourth straight conference title.

Freshman Jake Hed, promoted to the varsity earlier this month, has fit right in among veterans such as Brody Kuhar and Matt Yonkovich. His latest breakthrough: shooting a 2-under par 34 to share medalist honors with Kuhar in the Knights’ victory against Jacobs on Thursday.

“Obviously, any time a freshman gets bumped up, he’ll take a little flak. but it’s all in good fun,” Knights coach Mark Meyer said. “For the most part, they’ve really been helping him out and being a good teammate to him.”

Kaneland hopes Hed’s learning curve remains on an accelerated course next week. Two of the Knights’ scorers from the 2012 conference meet at Senica’s Oak Ridge graduated.

“Only two of our varsity guys played there last year, but … I think it’s a fair course and it’s a course our guys can play well, and there’s some good scoring opportunities and some holes where you’ve got to be smart,” Meyer said. “Having played it for the last few years in conference, I think they’ve got some confidence going to that course.”

The same goes for Hed, regardless of whether he’s seen the layout or not.

Butir backs North’s big threeSt. Charles North boys Matt Samuelson (75), Raghav Cherala (77), JT Grill (78) and Anthony Butir (83) collaborated on a winning team score of 313 during Monday’s Elgin Invitational at Bartlett Hills.

After much inconsistency in their invitationals earlier in the season, North Stars coach Rob Prentiss hopes the group is approaching a breakthrough.

Butir, a senior who joined the golf program after playing baseball his first two seasons, certainly did his part as fourth scorer.

“That was an important round for us,” Prentiss said. “The other three that counted are kind of our big three. Anthony really came through for us.”

North, 3-1 in Upstate Eight River play through Tuesday, still is not abandoning its focus on duals, though. There still are several key ones as the Oct. 2 conference meet at St. Andrews approaches, beginning with today’s quad against St. Charles East, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley.

“We’re coming down to the wire, getting ready for the conference tournament with some big matches,” Prentiss said “It’s a big week in the River Division.”

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

IN THE GROOVE
Victoria Phipps
Rosary, Sr.
What she did:
Phipps again played the reliable role of medalist during Thursday’s dual against Batavia at Mill Creek, shooting a 45 in the Royals’ 193-205 victory.

Zack Spear
Wheaton Academy, Jr.
What he did:
Helped the Warriors start a busy stretch with a win. Spear’s medalist round of 36 keyed Monday’s victory against Marian Central, the team’s first of four Suburban Christian Conference duals this week.

WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEKThe St. Charles North girls keep charging. North finished third in Saturday’s 22-team Rockford Guilford Invitational behind a six-over par 78 from Carly Hudon. Coach Chris Patrick was especially encouraged with the team’s precision approach shots at Ingersoll Golf Course’s smaller greens.

WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEADHow the UEC River boys race shakes out. Jockeying for position is very much in play with a handful of key duals remaining before next week’s conference tournament at St. Andrews. All four Tri-Cities teams have had things to feel good about as the season shifts into its stretch run.

COACH SLY SAYSSly’s looking forward to seeing which golfers are long for October.

What better way than the upcoming conference tournaments, which test athletes’ durability and drive?

The 18-hole format becomes more familiar after that as the state series approaches. These ought to be interesting times in Chronicle Country.

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