Thomas Huang leads Neuqua Valley to regional title

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Neuqua Valley’s Thomas Huang posted a 40 on his front nine Tuesday.

Not great. Not awful. The sophomore definitely knew he could do better.

“I really tried to forget everything I did on the front,” Huang said. “It’s a new nine, and you can recover. It’s about the team and not letting the score get away from you.”

Huang recovered nicely for the Wildcats as he posted a 37 on the back nine, good for a 77 overall.

Powered by Huang’s performance, Neuqua Valley squeaked out the Class 3A Lockport Regional by a single stroke with a total of 317 to Naperville North’s 318 at Broken Arrow Golf Club’s East and South courses in Lockport.

The top three teams and the 10 best individual scores from non-qualifying teams advance to next Monday’s Hinsdale Central Sectional.

Plainfield South’s Isaiah Pina won medalist honors, carding a 74 on the par-72 course.

“I tried playing more aggressively on the back,” Huang said. “It’s all about the mentality and forgetting the front. It was really close (as a team), but I think it can be a good morale boost to get a win going into sectionals.”

Also scoring for Neuqua Valley were Ian Langton (78), Drew Rouches (81) and Greg Crowley (81). It was the program’s fourth straight regional title.

“Thomas came back really strong for us,” Neuqua coach Bart Carbonneau said. “No panic in him. (As a team), we know we can play better. We know we can make it to state, but it’s going to be tough.”

Naperville North was paced by Griffin Brown’s fourth-place finish with 76 strokes. Also scoring was Brendan Bond (80), Joe Whang (81) and Tyler Vincent (81).

“To be honest, I think our guys were a little frustrated,” North coach Ryan Hantak said. “They’re usually shooting mid to high 70s. They were patient, and every shot counts and pay attention to the details over 18 holes. Don’t play conservative, but play smart. Griffin was our leader, and without him we don’t advance.”

Third-place Naperville Central (320) was led by Scott Dunsire’s fifth-place finish (77), tying with Huang. Also scoring were Ciaran Conroy (78), Tommy Dunsire (81) and Ryan Cagen (84).

For Pina winning medalist honors, it comes at the right time of the season.

“I finished third or fourth last year (at regional) so this does a lot for my confidence,” Pina said. “I’ve got a lot more confidence heading into next week. The conditions were kind of up and down so I tried to stay level-headed and put a few good shots together.”

Also advancing individually were Lockport’s Luke Trent (75), Matt Sheldon (83), Joe Tomczuk (84) and John Parker (85), Plainfield North’s Taylor Hollingshaus (75), Patrick Butler (80) and Greg Rash (81), Plainfield East’s Connor Murphy (82), and Plainfield Central’s Jake Hawkins (83).

In the team scores, Plainfield North (323) finished fourth ahead of Lockport (327), Plainfield South (343), Plainfield Central (354), Plainfield East (354), Bolingbrook (377) and Romeoville (448).

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