CRETE | The Homewood-Flossmoor golfers were nervous as they sat at the picnic table outside the Lincoln Oaks Golf Course clubhouse.
They had finished their round in the Class 3A regional hosted by Marian Catholic, and their total of 62-over-par 346 on a windy day was good, but not great. With Sandburg already on the board with 319, a number that would give them the regional plaque, and Marian Catholic likely slotted for second at 337, only one team spot in Monday’s sectional at Winnetka Golf Club remained.
All of Mount Carmel’s players were still on the course.
Then the Caravan players started to check in. An 86 by Nick Murray was good, but four strokes higher than H-F’s Jack Mulligan. Ryan Hernandez was next: 90, six strokes more than the Vikings’ Joe Proby.
And so it went, as score after score went up.
The Vikings made it, by 20 strokes.
“It was our expectation to make it,” said Mulligan, whose 10-over-par 82 led H-F. “It’s big.”
And, perhaps, a surprise. The Vikings have been up and down all season.
“We’ve played well, but haven’t had a bunch of good scores together,” Mulligan said.
Mulligan’s score with Joe Proby’s 84, Alex Cueller’s 86 and Ted Wick’s 94 were good enough for H-F to claim the third team spot for the sectional. Four Mount Carmel golfers – Murray, Hernandez, Rich Fordon and Neil Hoglund – were good enough to be among the 10 individuals advancing.
Marian Catholic, which has landed a player or the full squad in sectional play in 20 of Jim Mendenhall’s 21 years as head coach, was 18 strokes behind Sandburg, but an easy qualifier.
Marian junior Matt Hershberger led the Spartans with a 10-over 81, good for a share of third place, and a decent score considering the conditions.
“Swing easy when it’s breezy,” Hershberger said. “That and focus on each shot. It was a one or two-club wind, and 2 1/2 clubs when the wind was in your face.”
Hershberger scored birdies on the par-4 second and par-5 ninth, the latter via a two-foot putt after a precise chip.
Now he looks forward to Monday at Winnetka, a pampered municipal layout that, like Lincoln Oaks, dates to the 1920s. So does Thornton Township’s Andre Reid, one of the 10 individuals to advance.
“This means a lot to me,” Reid said. “I didn’t think I’d have a season. I’d asked to play the last two years, but we didn’t have a team.”
Reid, a senior, is the entire Thornton golf team, thanks, he said, “being a pest.”
He convinced Thornton athletic director Bill Mosel that he could represent the Wildcats well, and put the hours he spends practicing at Joe Louis The Champ to good use, scoring 14-over 85 to tie for second among the 10 qualifying individuals.
Sandburg’s Nick Adduce was the individual winner, scoring 6-over-par 77.