That’s how close Lockport came to notching a trip to the Class 3A stateboys golf finals last season, and that’s not lost on the dynamic duo of Luke Trent and Gehrig Hollatz, each of whom spoke bluntly on the topic.
“We kind of choked last year,” Trent said. “Now, it’s motivation.”
Lockport totaled 329 at sectionals to lead all teams from the area, but the Porters were edged by Edwardsville’s 327.
“We both shot the worst rounds of our year at sectionals,” Hollatz said. “I felt like I was trying hard, but I wasn’t trying as hard as I could, getting mad at myself for playing bad. If I would have known that we still had a shot at making state … It was just a tough day out there.”
Lockport’s opponents would be unwise to count on another performance like that from the rising juniors. Hollatz and Trent are poised to be one of the top tandems from the area.
“It’s a relief having those two,” Lockport coach Matt Eber said. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect those guys to post scores for us every match. Those two just don’t have bad stretches.”
Just don’t bother trying to pick out a No. 1 player. The pair have settled for the title of co-aces, as their scores over the summer would attest.
Hollatz and Trent played 15 rounds together over the break and went stroke for stroke, neither ceding ground. They both notched scores of 1,147, which comes out to approximately 76 per round.
“I couldn’t believe it after I counted up all the scores,” said Hollatz, who’s dad, Mark, is the golf coach at Lemont. “It’s pretty amazing.”
It’s not the first time the pair have been neck and neck. Last season at the loaded 10-team Lincoln-Way Central Regional, Hollatz topped Trent and Joliet Township standout Trent Wallace in a one-hole playoff to win medalist honors after all three finished at 1-over 73 at The Sanctuary.
“It’s a friendly competition,” Trent said. “We want each other to do well, but we also want to beat each other, and I think that helps us.”
Eber expects that type of gamesmanship between the two — along with a solid group of juniors and seniors to complement the pair — to keep Lockport in state contention.
“They’re both different, but it’s hard to separate them,” Eber said. “Gehrig hits long drives and has the perfect demeanor to get out of tough shots. Luke is really solid on the greens.
“They’ve worked hard on their games in the offseason. They’re ready for big years.”
Boys Golf 2013
1. Lincoln-Way East: Returning regional champ graduated Matt Stoner, who will play at Lewis, but the Griffins return a bevy of talent led by Matt Contey, Tyler Kelly, Jake White and Victor Perez.
2. Lockport: The Porters, three strokes away from making it to state last season, are poised to be a force in the postseason behind juniors Luke Trent and Gehrig Hollatz. Watch out for Mark Baker, Jake Speechley and Joe Gawle.
3. Providence: The Celtics finished second in the Catholic League last season behind the 1-2 punch of returnees Mickey Brick and Will McCabe. Talented freshman Ricky Costello is the top newcomer.
4. Lincoln-Way Central: SouthWest Suburban Red champion Tony Kestel should keep the Knights in contention for another conference championship. Four of Central’s top six players return.
5. Minooka: Four-year varsity starter Jason Chobar heads a deep squad that also features Kent Hudson and Kyle Sheppard. Coach Brian Petrovic anticipates a strong career for freshman Dan Anfield.
Top Individuals (in alphabetical order)
Mickey Brick, Jr., Providence
Jason Chobar, Sr., Minooka
Matt Contey, Sr., Lincoln-Way East
Matt Groebe, Lemont
Gehrig Hollatz, Jr. Lockport
Tony Kestel, Sr., Lincoln-Way Central
Will McCabe, Jr., Providence
Luke Trent, Jr., Lockport
Trent Wallace, Jr., Joliet co-op
Jake White, Jr., Lincoln-Way East