GLENDALE HEIGHTS – Coming off a regional victory, Geneva was vying for its third consecutive state appearance.
The Vikings are indeed headed back to Bloomington.
Medalist Tyler Isenhart shot a masterful 2-under par round of 69, vaulting the Vikings to third place in the Class 3A Glenbard East Sectional at Glendale Lakes Golf Club and back to the state finals this weekend.
Hinsdale Central (297) won a sectional for the sixth straight year, with Naperville Central (299) second and Geneva (302) just edging Neuqua Valley (304) for third.
Jack McDonald backed Isenhart with a round of 75, Nick Geen shot a 77 and Sean Hassels an 81 for Geneva.
Isenhart shot a 32 on the front nine, and it appeared to be smooth sailing. But he bogeyed the ninth hole, creating some drama in his mostly clean afternoon. A par-four, he hit the green but three-putted. Nonetheless, the state final is now in his sights.
"I've been playing solid, and I'm really happy that the team made it down state," said Isenhart, a junior who tied for third in the state last year. "I'm just gonna go into state trying to be in contention to win."
Before Geneva's recent three-year run of dominance, the Vikings only qualified for the state final one time, once in the 1980s, per Geneva head coach Eric Hatczel. McDonald and Isenhart have been the primary driving forces, but Geneva has been able to fill in the gaps after graduating seniors move on.
"It's a great group of guys," Hatczel said. "Each year, they seem to keep with the same trend. No matter who keeps picking up those next few spots, they keep cycling through."
St. Charles East was close to qualifying for state, but not close enough.
Shooting a collective 307, East enjoyed some memorable rounds from senior Connor King (70) and senior Mason Meadows (72), who will both represent their school at state this week individually. King finished just one shot back of Isenhart for medalist honors.
"Seeing my name near the top of the list gives me confidence going into state," said King, 55th at state last year. "I know I can play with these guys."
King pointed out the course had a few opportunities for birdies and tee shots, so he wanted to play smart and patient. Now, heading into state after a decent finish last year, King says he feels improved mentally – staying patient – he could be in good shape for a better finish.
Batavia finished last year's sectional 10th by shooting a 338, which was only two strokes ahead of last. This year, they improved that score by one stroke.
Justin Schutt shot their best round (82), with Will Huber (83) and Keegan Thompson (88) following behind. No one placed in the individual pool moving forward.
St. Charles North's season is over, after not shooting well enough to make the cut individually. The North Stars were led by Lucas Heflan (84) and Ethan Ring (86). Cole DePaul and Tanay Abichandani both shot 90.