Runner-up Hunt lifts Centennial
DANVILLE – Monday's Big 12 championship meet marked the beginning of what Centennial boys' golf coach Mike Wallner termed "the real season."
If his Chargers play as well as they did Monday at Turtle Run, they might find themselves extending that season well into October. Battling gusting wind throughout the day, Centennial claimed its first Big 12 title since 2000, besting second-place Bloomington by 6 strokes.
"A bunch of the coaches and I were talking beforehand and we thought if you shot right around 320 we would have a shot to win, but we played much better than that," Wallner said.
The Chargers finished 8 strokes better than their coach's stated goal, led by Austin Hunt, who shot a 1-over par 73. Hunt matched Bloomington's Alex Burge for the day's best score, but Hunt fell to Burge on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff for the Big 12 individual championship.
"He played real well. He hits it so far and when you hit it long off the tee and straight most of the time like he did, you can score," Wallner said of Hunt. "Unfortunately he lost in a playoff, but he lost to the best player in the conference and one of the best in the state of Illinois.
"He was excited. I know he was disappointed he didn't win but he was happy for the team and happy for himself."
Hunt's teammates followed his lead with some solid performances of their own.
Peter Black finished tied for third with a 75. Robb Cozad, Nate Overman and Greg Schultz all shot 82 and tied for 12th.
"They played well, they played hard," Wallner said. "The conditions didn't seem to bother them. It affected them, but mentally they were prepared. That was big today because we talked about it when we got off the van to grind it through every hole because you never know whose score is going to count. They hung in there."
Next up for the Chargers, a Class 2A regional at Mattoon on Oct. 6.
"We've played all these different tournaments and all these matches and I told them today when we got off the bus, 'This is when the season starts, right now,' " Wallner said. "We had the Big 12 today, then regionals next week and hopefully sectionals and maybe the state tournament. Our goal is to keep advancing."
Centennial girls finish fourth. Centennial's Lizzy Dombroski shot a 90 and finished tied for fourth place at the girls' Big 12 Conference meet at Ironwood in Normal. The Chargers finished in fourth place as a team behind champion Normal West, Normal Community and Mattoon.