Mundelein senior golfer Bret Cigelnik did a little bit of coaching prior to the four-person playoff that determined the individual champion at the Class 3A Zion-Benton Regional tournament at Shepherd’s Crook Oct. 8.
Before senior teammate Derek Parola teed off, he had a quick chat with his best friend.
“He told me that if I just focused on making pars, I would have a good chance,” said Parola, who won the sudden-death playoff on the third hole with his third consecutive par.
Cigelnik was drawing on recent experience. At the North Suburban Conference Tournament on Oct. 1 at Willow Glen Golf course, he fired a 73 that earned him a spot in a three-way playoff. On the first playoff hole, he stuck his wedge approach on the par 4 about 15 feet past the hole. He proceeded to blow his downhill birdie putt about eight feet past the hole.
“I hit it pretty hard; I remember looking up at my coach and teammates and they were kind of shocked,” he said.
Cigelnik quickly gathered himself and drained the comebacker for the victory. One week later, his best friend did the same.
“Those two have been like Frick and Frack for the last four years,” Mustangs coach Todd Parola said. “It’s neat that Bret won the conference tournament in the playoff and then Derek won the regional championship in a playoff.”
Cigelnik was going to be tough to beat on that opening playoff hole at the NSC tournament. On that same hole — a 415-yard par 4 — in regulation, he eagled by holing out from 80 yards.
“I hit it perfect but I was shocked when it hopped once and went right in,” he said.
Cigelnik had it going all day. He was long and straight off the tee and that gave him the opportunity to go flag hunting with several of his approach shots. That, combined with an improved short game, allowed him to win the tournament.
“I’ve focused on a lot on keeping my body still when I’m chipping to make sure I’m making solid contact,” he said. “I’ve also become a lot more confident on the greens.”
Cigelnik was solid all season and the Mustangs could count on him to post scores at or around par in each dual meet.
“He was outstanding for us in all our dual meets,” Todd Parola said.
Cigelnik struggled at the regional tournament (83) but the Mustangs still found a way to post a total of 318, two strokes better than second-place Lake Forest. It was Mundelein’s first regional golf title in school history.
At the Huntley Sectional Monday, Cigelnik shot 76 to advance to the state meet as an individual while Mundelein shot 319 as a team to finish 12 shots off the state cut.
“I didn’t play that well (at regionals) but my team carried me,” Cigelnik said.