Waiting is always the hardest part, which is why Mickey Brick and Providence breathed a collective sigh of relief when the scores were finally tallied Monday at the Class 3A Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional.
“It felt exactly like last year,” Brick said. “Thank god the outcome was different. I don’t know if I could have taken that again, but we’re alright.”
Providence, the heavy favorite, carded its highest score of the year with a 312 but still championed the 12-team, 112-player field at Balmoral Woods in Crete. Brick & Co. missed a trip to state last season by two strokes.
“The conditions helped our score being higher, but we hung tough,” Brick said of an early fog delay and mid-round showers. “Everyone grinded it out, and that’s what you needed to do in a tough sectional like this. I’m proud of my guys.”
Brick tied Lincoln-Way Central’s Anthony Bolden for third with a 2-over 74 to pace Providence. Ricky Costello (77), Will McCabe (79) and Kevin McEneany (82) added contributing scores for the Celtics.
Providence needed every shot it could summon, because the scores couldn’t have been much tighter. Six other teams were within five shots of the lead and seven individuals were forced into a one-hole playoff for the final five qualifying spots.
The top three teams and 10 individuals from non-qualifying schools advance to the state meet Friday and Saturday at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington.
“The last few sectionals have been so nerve-racking,” Providence coach John Platt said. “But that’s what it’s about — just advance.”
Normal and Homewood-Flossmoor both moved on after posting 313s. H-F was a dark horse after finishing third at regionals. The Vikings played Balmoral Woods earlier in the year and shot a 328.
“What we’ve done in the past is waste a lot of shots,” H-F coach Chris Stiglic said. “We didn’t do that (Monday).”
Jack Mulligan led the Vikings with a 75 to tie for fifth overall. Jack Calderone (78), Preston Genett (79) and Kevin Steiner (81) also supplied scores.
“When got the first tee time, we were pretty excited,” Mulligan said. “We knew we could post a good number and set the pace.”
Just missing the cut were Edwardsville (315), Minooka (316), Lincoln-Way Central (316) and Pekin (317), the last of which was led by medalist Drake Bushong’s 69.
Edwardsville’s Ty Zeller was second with a 73. Lincoln-Way Central’s Scott Mueller and Bradley’s Ryan Ponton shot 75s to tie Mulligan for fifth.
The five advancing individuals from the one-hole playoff were Edwardsville’s Justin Hemings; Sandburg’s Austin Wojtczak and Brett Katalinic; Joliet Co-op’s Trent Wallace; and Bradley’s Michael Mateja.