Neuqua Valley coach Bart Carbonneau didn’t have to look far to find motivation for his team at Wednesday’s Upstate Eight Valley meet at St. Andrews in West Chicago.
Last year, the Wildcats rolled through the regular season unbeaten. But at the UEC Valley meet, they finished fourth, forcing them to share the overall conference title with Waubonsie Valley.
“That was a bittersweet feeling for us,” Carbonneau said. “We were still co-champions, but that was our trophy that we gave away.”
Wednesday, the Wildcats, unbeaten again in dual meet play, suffered no such fate.
Neuqua shot a 313, seven strokes clear of Waubonsie, to secure the conference championship. Drew Rouches led the way with a 76, winning medalist honors over Waubonsie’s Jack Troy by shooting a birdie on the second playoff hole.
“I am very happy,” Carbonneau said. “We had a mantra; it was one shot at a time. I told them to not compound errors. The guys stayed focused. They played the way we talked about. Great team effort, I’m proud of them for that.”
Rouches recalled the 2012 meet when his older brother Nick was in a playoff with a Waubonsie Valley player. That day, Waubonsie’s Austin Datz won the medalist honors.
“I felt like I had a chip on my shoulder to win,” Drew Rouches said.
On the second playoff hole, he drove the ball to within 135 yards of the pin. He hit a pitching wedge to the back right of the pin, leaving him about 15 or 20 feet for birdie. The putt lipped in on the right edge, giving him medalist honors.
“For him to finish it off on a birdie is great,” Carbonneau said. “I love golf when somebody finishes it on a great shot instead of somebody missing it. He got it to fall.”
Greg Crowby (78), Jimmy Roach (79) and Ian Langton (80) rounded out Neuqua’s scoring.
Waubonsie came in as a severe underdog this year after losing four dual meet matches. But the Warriors rallied at the right time, shooting a 320 to wind up third in the overall standings behind Metea Valley. The Mustangs shot a 334 Wednesday.
Troy, a sophomore, led the way with his 76. Conrad Esch added a 78 and Parker Hoffmann a 79.
“Having four losses, our big thing was coming in as an underdog and leaving as one of the teams on top,” Waubonsie coach Eric Copeland said. “Fortunately, we did that. You have to be proud of the guys. They fought, they came back and they’re really starting to shine at the end of the season.”
Metea was paced by David Lipan’s 78 and an 83 from Jeremy Forbes. South Elgin finished with a 341 behind an 85 from Ethan Hildebrandt.
Next season, all three Indian Prairie School District teams — Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley — will be making the move to the DuPage Valley.