BLOOMINGTON — His son is halfway to a state title. And his team is in contention for one, too.
There wasn’t a happier boys’ golf coach than St. Thomas More’s Mark Tate on Friday.
“It’s exciting. It’s also very nerve-racking to be a coach with your son out there, too,” Tate said. “But the team comes first. That’s the way it’s always been around here.”
The Sabers, who qualified for state despite a shaky sectional performance, sit in second place in Class 1A with 18 holes to play at Prairie Vista. Junior Chris Tate is the individual leader after a career-best 68.
“I’m fired up,” Chris Tate said. “I never imagined shooting a 68. It’s pretty surreal.”
Both son and father knew it would be a good day after Chris’ performance on the practice range.
“I was hitting everything perfect,” Chris said.
Right on schedule, Dad said.
“He peaked about this time last year,” Mark said of Chris’ 76 at 2012 state, which was the best round of his sophomore season. “His game has improved a lot since then.”
Chris Tate hit 14 greens and sank a handful of clutch putts to lead Ethan Brue of Petersburg PORTA and Jacob Eklund of Carterville by 3 strokes.
Today, the Sabers will try to win their first state title since 2008.
“It’s a chance to steal something,” Mark Tate said, “because we did something nobody expected.”
Bismarck-Henning, vying for its second straight top-five team finish, sits in seventh place heading into today’s final round. Andy Bott, looking for a third straight top-10 individual finish, is tied for 14th after shooting a first-round 77.
Central senior Riley Thompson, the lone area individual competing at the Class 2A state finals, carded an 82 on Friday at Weibring Golf Club in Normal and is tied at 47th.
Bulldogs, Sages fare well. At Red Tail Run Golf Course in Decatur, Mahomet-Seymour and Monticello find themselves both in the Top 10 at the Class 1A state finals. The Bulldogs, led by Emily Trolia’s 80, are in ninth place, and Trolia is tied for 13th on the leaderboard.
Evelyn Brand paced Monticello with an 83, which helped put the senior in a tie for 26th. The Sages are 2 strokes ahead of Aurora Rosary for 10th place entering today’s final round. Salt Fork senior Courtney LaFoe is tied for 34th after opening with an 85.