Lyons senior Mike Caplice finds redemption at sectional

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LOCKPORT — Senior Jon Hudson wasn’t thinking about himself when Lyons clinched the final state team spot at Monday’s Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional.

Hudson’s thoughts were about senior teammate Mike Caplice, who agonized last year when Lyons missed a state berth by one stroke.

“I know Mike struggled [Monday],” Hudson said. “I thought with our other seniors, we’ll be good. [Matt] Walsh and me and our other seniors were going to make it in [to state].”

Lyons’ third-place finish at the sectional with a 294 team score was a reason for Caplice to celebrate. Lyons joined sectional champion Hinsdale Central (284) and York (293) as qualifying teams for state, which begins Friday at the Den at Fox Creek Golf Club in Bloomington.

Lyons placed second in 2011 and third in 2012, but last year Caplice felt responsible for Lyons’ failed bid for the state meet. He suffered a shoulder injury during a practice round the day before last year’s Naperville Central Sectional and thought he could play, but had trouble swinging without pain. He played a few holes before being forced to quit.

That left Lyons with five golfers at the sectional instead of six, meaning the Lions had to count all but one score.

Lyons wound up placing fourth and missed state by one stroke after Benet took third with a 311. Brothers Jon and Dan Hudson, currently a freshman at Kansas, were the only Lyons golfers to advance.

“It was my left shoulder,” Caplice said. “I couldn’t finish. I felt terrible. I couldn’t’ contribute to the team at all.”

After the round, Caplice saw a doctor who determined that he had pulled a muscle. It was another two-three weeks before Caplice picked up a club.

A year later, Caplice will make his first appearance in the state meet.

“I’ve been waiting for this since last year’s sectional this month,” Caplice said. “I think this [state meet] will be one of the best experiences of my life.”

Caplice shot an 80 Monday at Prairie Bluff Golf Club in Lockport and was Lyons’ last scorer. Billy Spartz and Jason Miller each carded an 78.

Hudson won a two-hole playoff with Hinsdale Central sophomore Brendan O’Reilly for medalist honors after shooting a 3-under-par 68.

Hudson also beat O’Reilly in a playoff at the Hinsdale South Regional Oct. 7, also at Prairie Bluff.

Lyons beat Wheaton Warrenville South by two strokes for the final state bid.

“Last year we missed by one shot,” Lyons coach Brian Kopecky said. “As a coach of a lot of sports, you know what goes around comes around. I’ve called this a roller-coaster team. We’ve gone up and down.”

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