WINNETKA — It took Loyola boys golf coach Tim Kane nine seasons to win a sectional championship, and he did it Monday with a lineup that lacked experience at the state series.
None of the Ramblers’ four scorers at the Class 3A New Trier Sectional played in the postseason last year. Loyola freshman Bennett Cotten was the sectional medalist after beating teammate and junior Matt Jacobson, another first-year varsity player, in a sudden-death playoff at the Winnetka Golf Club. Both players shot even-par 71s.
Senior Tyler Aldrich (74) and freshman John Kryscio (78) also contributed to the Ramblers’ 10-over 294, which was eight strokes better than runner-up New Trier (302). Glenbrook North (305) grabbed the third and final team berth in the state tournament. The 36-hole tournament is set for Friday and Saturday at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.
“This is a good grinding team,” Kane said. “Even when they don’t play their best, they are able to score. We thought we could do some damage in the postseason.”
Junior Michael Banas was the only player back from last year’s team that finished fourth at the Marist Sectional and was one stroke short of advancing to the state tournament. But Banas’ 81 on Monday wasn’t needed. Ramblers senior Nick Rossini added a 79 Monday.
While Cotten has been the team’s best player all season, Jacobson nearly failed to get past varsity tryouts and fought all season to get into, and stay in, the starting six. On Monday, he turned in a career performance on the tight, tree-lined track. It came less than one week after Jacobson shot an 80 at the regional tournament.
Kane described Jacobson’s season as “up and down” and said he plays better when something is on the line.
“The goal was to avoid big numbers,” said Jacobson, who hit 15 greens in regulation and matched two birdies with two bogeys. “It’s cool to be going to the state tournament. I am very happy with how things have turned out.”
The Ramblers last played at the state tournament in 2012 and will be chasing after the program’s first state title since Ray Del Fava coached Loyola to consecutive championships in 2000 and 2001.
“[Monday] was a good day,” Kane said.
Senior Tyler Mulier was the latest Spartan to go low and lead the team, and that’s why he said he enjoys playing with this season’s group.
On Monday, Mulier, a two-year varsity golfer, tied for fourth as an individual with a 74 as Glenbrook North qualified for its third consecutive state tournament as a team.
“It’s fun knowing you can shoot a good number and count for the team,” Mulier said. “Everyone has contributed on different days.”
At the regional last week, junior Daniel Cole and sophomore Charlie Van Cleeve shot 72s. Cole and Van Cleeve each carded a 76 at the sectional, and senior Luke Oberholtzer had a 79.
Glenbrook North coach Justin Gerbich said it’s been gratifying to know that all six of his players are capable of sharing the spotlight.
“To be honest, last year after Nick [Hardy] and Brian [Ohr], we really dropped off,” the coach said of the 2014 graduates. “This year, everybody has stepped up to help.
“Not too long ago, Tyler was hitting it terribly. [Monday], he was money.”
Playing in his first sectional tournament, New Trier junior Andrew Huber hit one of the best shots of his career.
Standing on the 17th tee, a 223-yard par 3, Huber stuffed a hybrid to one foot. He rolled in the putt for birdie on his way to tying for fourth with a 74, which was the best score for the second-place Trevians.
“I knew this was going to be a close tournament, so every shot was going to matter,” Huber said. “That was clutch.”
Junior Matt Murlick, another postseason rookie, had a 75. Senior Will Connelly came in at 76, and sophomore Justin Choi shot 77. It also was Choi’s first time at the state series.
New Trier qualified for its seventh consecutive trip to the state tournament. The Trevians finished second last year to Hinsdale Central. Both Connelly and senior Jack Junge (81) were in the lineup last year at The Den at Fox Creek.
Glenbrook South junior Grant Reese shot his second consecutive 72 of the postseason Monday, and took third at Winnetka Golf Club. The 10 top individuals not on qualifying teams earned at-large spots in the state tournament.
Sophomore Charlie Nikitas will join Reese in Bloomington following his 77.
The Hawks will be represented at the state tournament by senior Anthony Celiano and junior Tom Zelek after both carded 77s.
Blue Demons senior Orion Yamat survived the sectional by shooting a 75. He also played at the state tournament last year.
Jonathan Kendall shot a team-best 81, but the Dons finished ninth as a team with a 335. No Notre Dame golfer advanced as an individual.
Senior Bill Nondorf (84), senior Gil Hurtig (86) and junior Nick Lydon (89) all concluded their seasons Monday.