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Sports

Boys Golf: Alex Lilly, St. Charles North take their turn as regional champs

North Stars edge Geneva 322-323 for first title since 2012; Geneva's Nathan Dalton wins individual title in playoff

St. Charles North's Alex Lilly.
St. Charles North's Alex Lilly.

BARTLETT – Geneva had won four straight boys golf regionals coming into Monday's meet.

It's St. Charles North's turn now.

The North Stars did so – barely – by beating the Vikings by one stroke, 322-323 on Monday at the Class 3A South Elgin Regional at Bartlett Hills Golf Course.

St. Charles East placed third, posting a 333, to take the final spot among teams advancing to next Monday's sectional meet at at the Village Links of Glen Ellyn. North's regional title is the program's first since 2012.

"We're so junior-heavy, that I thought this year would be a year of experience," North Stars coach Justin Moriarty said. "But some of our veteran guys stepped up today and posted some good scores."

"Here we are: Regional champs."

Individually, St. Charles North's Alex Lilly and Geneva's Nathan Dalton shared the low round of 76. Dalton prevailed in a one-hole playoff on the par-5 16th hole.

Both Dalton and Lilly were competing in their first-ever varsity playoffs, but Dalton's third stroke of the hole put the ball in favorable position for a short putt on the green. Dalton just missed his next putt, but then sank it to earn par. Lilly parred the hole both times on the day.

"We were kind of joking going into [the playoff] because I think in the last six years, I think I've been in four or five playoffs with individuals," Geneva coach Eric Hatczel said. "He hit a pretty decent drive...just hit a beautiful third [shot]."

"That, to me, I think was really what put the pressure on [Lilly]," Hatczel continued. "Because now Alex sees his ball on the green, and that was just a good thing that Nathan was able to do by hitting first."

Lilly's third stroke landed in a sand trap to the right of the green, proving to be a challenge to get out of. By his sixth stroke, his ball found the green, but it was too late to recover from.

"I think it definitely prepares me for just a higher expectation or a different level of play," Lilly said of the playoff. "If it's sectionals, or even state, the nerves that come with it and just trying to deal with it [will be helpful]."

"We're not where we are without [Lilly]," Moriarty said. "I know the playoff didn't go as he would've liked, but I think he'd be the first to tell you that the team is paramount to any individual success. And, we're not regional champs without the 76 that he posted."

Evan Suyak (84), Cole Miller (83), John White (79), Ethan Ring (87) and Nathan Gordon (86) round out the North Stars' scores.

Following Dalton's 76, Quin McNeive and Zach Padgett both earned 82. Cal McKittrick (83), Carter Williams (84) and Joe Adams (88) paced Geneva.

David Griggs and Blake Connelly both scored 82 to pace St. Charles East. Jake Daeschler (85), Chris Petri (86), Joey Dunklau (84) and Bennett Mortensen (85) rounded out the scores to grind out the solid team finish.

"Even if something goes bad, like we had a couple guys have some bad first holes: some triple [bogeys]," Connelly began, "We still come back later and we just don't give up."

Batavia, who placed fourth as a team, will send four on to sectionals next week. Ari Fragen (81), Gavin Newkirk (84), Jake Kleist (86) and Kade Witt (91) placed among the top-10 individuals.

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