Khachaturian on target
GCMS' Spangler tied for third place
BLOOMINGTON – In his third go-around at the state golf finals, St. Thomas More's Nathaniel Khachaturian isn't intimidated by the big stage.
"This is the state tournament. It's time to perform," he said.
Perform is exactly what the junior did in the opening round of Friday's Class 1A finals at Prairie Vista. He enters today's final round tied for fifth after shooting a 75 and is 4 strokes behind leader Shane Convery of Raymond Lincolnwood.
"I just felt good this morning, and when I got out there good things started happening, and I knew that it was gonna be good," Khachaturian said. "Given the conditions, I think I played solid golf and a good round."
On a cold, wet course, Khachaturian was tied for the lead through 14 holes, but he made a triple-bogey 7 on No. 6 – he started on the back nine – and finished his round 3 over par.
"I was certainly hoping to be in this position, but I wasn't expecting anything. This is golf, anything can happen," Khachaturian said.
In his previous trips to the finals, Khachaturian was a part of Sabers teams that qualified, including last year's state championship team. This year he's competing as an individual alongside teammates Ben Dodds (83) and Jordan Wellinghoff (91), so instead of staying in a hotel with the team, he was back home in Champaign on Friday night.
"It's nice to sleep in your own bed," Khachaturian said. "There's a different feel to it this year. When you stay at a hotel there's a team feel to it, and you're thinking more about state. When you're staying at home it's just like another tournament."
He's won some of those other tournaments before, but never anything as big as what he might accomplish today if he puts together a great round and ascends up the leaderboard.
"This is the state tournament, the tournament of the year," he said. "It's best to perform well here rather than anywhere else. I'd be real happy with my season if it ended (with a championship). I think I just barely missed the last group tomorrow, and everybody will be watching them. Hopefully I can play well and sneak on in there."
In the team competition, Salt Fork enters the final round in sixth place, 13 shots behind co-leaders Effingham St. Anthony and Mount Carmel. Regional and sectional champion David Keenan was the Storm's top performer with a 78. He's tied for 18th place.
Monticello's Nick Huisinga is tied for eighth after shooting a 76.
Bulldogs tied for fifth. The stated goal for Mahomet-Seymour at this weekend's state finals is to return to Champaign County with a trophy. The Bulldogs are within striking distance after finishing the opening round of the Class 2A finals at Normal's Weibring Golf Club tied for fifth, 7 strokes behind third-place Joliet Catholic and 19 behind front-running Sacred Heart-Griffin.
"We would have liked to have been a few strokes better, but considering the conditions, it wasn't too bad," M-S coach Nathan Mills said. "Conditions were tough. It was wet, it was cold. We were playing the ball down, and it was awfully muddy to be playing the ball down, but everybody had to do it."
Seth Trolia shot a 79 to lead M-S on Friday and is tied for 16th individually. Adam Guth (80) and Andrew Lawson (84) also went low for the Bulldogs.
"Seth shot well. He battled to shoot that 79. It was tough," Mills said. "We're deep. We'll improve a couple of strokes each tomorrow and be in the hunt, hopefully, for a trophy."
Centennial's Austin Hunt shot an 83 and is tied for 43rd.
Sabers girls fourth. The St. Thomas More girls put themselves in good position Friday at Crab Orchard in Carterville to finish in the top three in Class 1A for the fourth consecutive year. The Sabers stand fourth after the opening round, 3 strokes behind second-place Bloomington Central Catholic and 16 behind leader Massac County.
Claire Dabrowski carded a 93 for STM and is tied for 28th. Megan Deedrich's 96 places her 37th entering today's final round.
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's Emily Spangler shot the round of the day among area qualifiers. The sophomore fired an 82 and is tied for third place going into the final. Leading up to the state meet, Spangler shot 87 in the regional and 91 in sectionals.
In the Class 2A field at Carbondale's Hickory Ridge Golf Course, Centennial's Lizzy Dombroski is tied for 50th after shooting an 87. Dombroski, a junior, finished 13th last season.