NORMAL – Cool temperatures and pesky winds swirled about Illinois State’s Weibring Golf Club as the Class 2A boys golf state tournament opened Friday.
The conditions mirrored what Burlington Central athletes face on campus during most days this time of year. Maybe that’s why the Rockets enter today’s final round in sound position in the team trophy race.
Led by Indiana-bound senior Matt Weber’s even-par 71 – three shots off the individual lead – BC finished with an aggregate 314, tied for third place with Rockford Boylan. The total is two shots behind leader Pontiac and one shy of Dunlap. Peoria Notre Dame (320) and St. Francis (323) are among those in close pursuit, but the Rockets like their chances of keeping pace if they can keep an even keel.
“They just came with the expectation to play their game and not worry about anybody else, and I think that helped them a whole lot,” Rockets coach Deb Twenhafel said. “They weren’t worried about anybody else, just that they could play well.”
There certainly were challenges along the way. Weber had to work to stay calm after early hiccups on the heels of playing the front nine at 4-under par, a surge that helped him grab the early individual lead.
Consecutive bogeys to end the front side threatened to derail junior Austin Niesel, who carded a 76. Andrew Sherman (83) and Jacob Ledebuhr (84) also scored for BC.
St. Francis benefited from consistent rounds from Dan Mochel (78), Jonathan Nocek (81), Connor Buckley (82) and John Stolte (82). Buckley recovered from a quadruple bogey on the second hole.
“Our biggest thing was not to put ourselves out of position,” Spartans coach Greg Baresel said. “They went out and they played well.
“It was cloudy and windy and a tough day, and I thought our guys pushed through. It’s stuff that we’ve been doing all year, so our team knows how to do it. At conference, regionals, sectionals, we’ve been pulling through all year long. We treated it as much as we could as any other meet.”
Playing in the 3A tournament at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in adjacent Bloomington, St. Charles North senior Raghav Cherala carded a 7-over 79 to tie for 50th, seven shots off the lead. North Stars coach Rob Prentiss lauded Cherala’s ball striking, but putting woes contributed to a stretch of bogey-bogey-double bogey early in Cherala’s second nine.
“He’s real comfortable with how to play he golf course,” Prentiss said. “He’s hitting the ball well, so I look for him to score better tomorrow. I think he knows what to expect now.”
In the 1A tournament at Bloomington’s Prairie Vista Golf Course, Aurora Christian freshman Brett Seward is 11 shots off the lead after registering a 7-over 79.
A handful of Kane County Chronicle-area individiuals also are part of the 2A field, joining in the chase of overall leader David Perkins of East Peoria, who had a 3-under 68.
Grant Gosden (Wheaton Academy) and Sean Harreld (Aurora Central Catholic) both shot 77. Kaneland’s Matt Yonkovich fired a 78, and Wheaton Academy’s Zack Spear had an 81.
For the moment, Weber and Boylan’s Danny Gorman, who also shot 71, have the most up-close view of Perkins.
“Matt’s OK with being where he’s at,” Twenhafel said. “Actually, I think it’s better for him to go in not being in the lead. I think there’s not as much pressure there, as well.”