Last season, Hinsdale Central’s boys golf team entered the season under the radar.
It’s amazing what a state championship can do.
The Red Devils roared to the Class 3A crown last year and welcome back five of the top six from that team. And as if they needed any more help, Illinois Junior Amateur champion Brendan O’Reilly joins the team as an incoming freshman.
This time around, the Red Devils are the favorites heading into the season, which kicks off on Monday.
“We’re going to have the target on our backs this year,” Hinsdale Central coach Jess Krueger said. “We’re not going to sneak up on anybody. We’re going to try to do what we always do, get to the state tournament and see what happens.”
Junior Brian Dolehide led the way to the title last year, finishing fifth as an individual. Sophomore Kenneth Li was 14th as a freshman at the rain-shortened state meet last year. Senior Jeff Loo has appeared at state three times and seniors Grant Filer and Tom Olson are also back from the state team.
That depth is what the Red Devils are hoping will carry them again this season.
“You don’t need a lot of people to go under par, you just need a lot of guys that can shoot 75,” Olson said. “I like that a lot. It takes a lot of the pressure off. You can go out there and play your game and not worry about carrying the team.”
That depth breeds competition within the team, however, which keeps everybody motivated every day of the season.
“We’re all good players and everybody wants that top spot,” Dolehide said. “To me, that’s very important. That’s my main goal this year.”
Added to the mix is O’Reilly, who made a big splash with his Illinois Junior Amateur title this summer. When Krueger looks at him, he sees a lot of former Red Devils standout Brett Tomfohrde in him. Tomfohrde just wrapped up his career at Miami of Ohio last year.
“They look and play a lot alike,” Krueger said. “[O’Reilly] still has his freshman days, but he’s a good, solid golfer, good-sized kid. He’s real competitive. So far, he’s assimilated nicely. He’s fit in with the guys so far.”
Krueger notes that there are some other young players who could wind up in the mix, providing even more competition.
So as Hinsdale Central aims for a repeat, it will be as the favorites this time around.
“We have to play our best,” Dolehide said. “We want to make it to state, which is always a struggle. If we make it to state, we’re going to try to win it.”