State golf storylines, courtesy Fred Kroner
For the fifth consecutive year, a Vermilion Valley Conference boys’ golf team has qualified for state in Class 1A. Salt Fork had top-five finishes in 2009 and 2010. On Monday, coach Terry French’s Bismarck-Henning team qualified for a school-record third consecutive season. Team leader Andy Bott is shooting for a top-10 finish for the third year in a row. He tied for first — and finished second after a playoff — in 2011 and tied for eighth last year when the event was shortened to 18 holes. Based on scores from the four sectional sites, Bott will again be a contender. He shot a 71 on Monday, sharing the best score from any sectional. B-H is one of five schools sending teams to state for a third straight year, joining two-time defending champion North Shore Country Day, Effingham St. Anthony, Nashville and Winchester. B-H’s David Warren had an interesting feat in his first two state appearances. In both 2011 and 2012, he placed in a tie for 57th individually. He had the team’s second-best score at sectional. ”It is an unbelievable accomplishment for our program to make it to the finals for a third straight time and fifth overall,” French said. “I am not sure people understand the work and how hard it is to make it once. It takes great young men that have a desire to work hard and listen to what we need them to do. They have to be able to not only work hard, but also work on the right things. We have a great team chemistry that makes the kids pull hard not to let the other guys down. I have always said that I had never dreamed for our program to go this far and it seems to keep growing with some younger kids taking interest.”
Trifecta for ‘Dogs, Trolia
Mahomet-Seymour hit its first threepeat in girls’ golf, securing its third Class 1A state berth in a row. Junior Emily Trolia has been a part of all three Bulldog state teams. She placed in a tie for 92nd as a freshman and ended 68th at state last fall. At sectionals, Trolia had the best M-S score (81) and placed fifth individually. In its most recent state appearances, coach Matt Mills’ team placed ninth in 2012 and sixth in 2011. Three squad members, besides Trolia, are back from last year’s squad. The best part — as far as the future — is that five of this year’s top six are underclassmen. The team’s other state veterans are junior Maddie Birckbichler, sophomore Keegan Gagne and senior Lexi Hornsby. “The four girls that were on last year’s state team talked about getting back to the state tournament the first week of practice,” Mills said. “They all know what it takes to qualify and they really rose to the challenge at the sectional tournament. I know the girls will enjoy the experience this weekend and hopefully post some solid scores. Emily, Maddie, Lexi and Keegan are pretty familiar with the course from last year’s tournament. Emily has been back to Red Tail Run several times. Emily has really stepped up her game. She put in a lot of work this summer to change her swing and it has really paid off for her.”
And then there was one
Among the sectional competitors in Class 2A, only one individual moved on to state. The area’s lone representative is Champaign Central senior Riley Thompson, a repeat qualifier. He fired a 77 at the Metamora Sectional and was 1 stroke above the cutoff to advance. Last year, Thompson shot 78 at sectionals and also survived by 1 stroke. Thompson has been under the radar this season. He entered the week with a nine-hole average of 41.0. In 10 events where the format was 18 holes, he had two top-10 finishes, tying for seventh at Champaign’s Macek Invitational (79) and also placing seventh in the Big 12 Conference meet (76). Coach Tim Bridges said Thompson has improved in all facets. “His ball striking is more consistent, allowing him to hit more fairways and more greens in regulation,” Bridges said. “He has more focus and more control over his game. Riley’s determination and will to grind has gotten him where he is today. He knows what it takes to compete at the end of the season, and it has shown the last two years. The hard part is over, advancing through regionals and sectionals, now it is time to enjoy state and go play great golf. Everyone will have nerves; however, being his second year, Riley has matured and will be ready to go as he tees it up Friday morning.”
Sages continue record-setting season
First, there were school records for nine-hole and 18-hole scores. Then came an Okaw Valley Conference team title as the calendar changed to October. Monticello’s girls’ golf team followed up those successes by winning the school’s first regional championship. “It was only the second time we advanced as a team (to sectionals),” coach Chris Townsend said. The Sages weren’t done, sharing team honors at sectionals with Mahomet-Seymour and gaining the plaque after a playoff. “Our No. 5 player, Andrea Easton, had her best round ever to secure the win on the fifth-score tie-breaker,” Townsend said. Townsend won’t set any limit on what Monticello can accomplish this weekend. “If we play the way we did in the Macek Tournament (on Oct. 9, placing fifth out of 15 teams), we could finish well at state,” Townsend said. “The girls should be relaxed with nothing to lose at this point after having such a historic season.” Monticello is the only area school with two players among the area top five for nine-hole scoring averages. Senior Evelyn Brand (40.4) ranks first and freshman Kendyl McFarland (44.3) stands third. Seniors Madeline Diniz and Claire Huisinga were the team’s other scorers at sectional. “The girls have been pretty consistent these last two weeks,” Townsend said.
Class 1A BOYS
Bismarck-Henning: Andy Bott, Sr.; Noah Campbell, Jr.; Blake Douglass, Fr.; Josh Heidrick, Jr.; Logan Reifsteck, Sr.; David Warren, Jr.
St. Thomas More: Chandler Bollman, Sr.; Jesse Dankle, Sr.; Michael Kehl, So.; Wes Kramer, Jr.; Christopher Tate, Jr.; Tyler Vodacek, So.
Blue Ridge: Cory Jayne, So.; Mason Potts, Jr.
Oakwood: Brandon Rowe, Fr.
Shiloh: Hayden Kile, Jr.
Friday and Saturday, Prairie Vista, Bloomington
CLASS 2A BOYS
Champaign Central: Riley Thompson, Sr.
Friday and Saturday, Weibring Golf Club, Illinois State, Normal
CLASS 1A GIRLS
Mahomet-Seymour: Maddie Birckbichler, Jr.; Keegan Gagne, So.; Jessi Haines, So.; Lexi Hornsby, Sr.; Cydney Mitchaner, So.; Emily Trolia, Jr.
Monticello: Evelyn Brand, Sr.; Madeline Diniz, Sr.; Andrea Easton, Jr.; Claire Huisinga, Sr.; Kendyl McFarland, Fr.; Lea Wilson, Fr.
Salt Fork: Courtney LaFoe, Sr.
Friday and Saturday, Red Tail Run Golf Course, Decatur
CLASS 2A GIRLS
Friday and Saturday, Hickory Point Golf Club, Decatur