BLOOMINGTON – Geneva junior Tyler Isenhart saved his best shot for his final shot on Saturday.
Isenhart, in his third Class 3A state appearance, sank a 15-foot shot from the bunker on No. 18 to cap a sterling two-day showing at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.
Isenhart shot a 1-under-par 71 on the final day to finish with an even-par 144 to earn a third-place individual medal for the second consecutive season.
The Vikings notched seventh place with a 617, as Hinsdale Central captured its state record sixth straight crown (593).
Before No. 18, Isenhart, who was among the earlier groups to finish on Saturday, remained within contention for an individual title. His consistent play on the final day, keyed by four birdies, including on No. 18, tied him with Edwardsville’s Ben Tyrrell. Stevenson junior Jackson Bussell claimed the individual title with a 141.
“I knew going into 18 that I had to birdie it, but I didn’t hit a good approach shot that I hit into the bunker,” Isenhart said, "but I hit a good bunker shot. I wasn’t thinking of making it…It went in. I was really excited, everybody was going crazy. I knew I had agood chance to be in the playoffs.
“I think that was the biggest shot I have ever hit. I had a good line on the bunker, and a good game plan going into the shot. I hit it well.”
Aided by unusually warm weather and no rain, Isenhart topped his third-place state score from last year by four strokes.
Although dropping a spot from last season’s sixth-place finish, Geneva coach Eric Hatczel summed up the state experience in simplistic fashion. Hatczel said his team never broke 300 all season in a meet all season, yet managed to notch a top 10 placing at state.
“It’s state: It’s that five-letter word that everyone loves to hear in their program,” he said. “We had a rocky start this year, but to have a season like this and make it to state, they fired the right scores at the right time. Tyler inspired the other kids. He has a passion and obsession for golf. He played great in the second round. It was redemption for him. He stepped up big on the final hole.”
Jack McDonald (152), Nick Green (157) and Teegan Ebel (164) rounded out Geneva’s top four scores. McDonald, a junior and a three-time state participant, shot a 77 on the final day, including a 38 in the final nine holes, to finish tied for 32nd to top his two previous states howings by a wide margin. As a sophomore, McDonald shot a 168 at state after carding a 178 in his freshman season.
“I usually struggle on this course, but I found a way to play good golf,” McDonald said. “It was fun. I hit off the tee really well, which put myself in spots to score. My short game was nice.”
St. Charles East’s Mason Meadows tallied four birdies Saturday to finish in 26th place with a 151, while teammates Connor King concluded his career with a 161.
“I had fun playing, and this was a nice way to end my career,” King said.