West Chicago surprises field to win Upstate Eight Valley meet

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The funny thing about conference golf tournaments is that a season’s worth of work can get scrambled in one day.

At the Upstate Eight Valley meet at St. Andrews Wednesday, it was West Chicago that gummed up the works.

The Wildcats, who were 1-5 in the regular season dual meets, shot a 313 to win the conference tournament. Neuqua Valley, which was 6-0 in conference play, shot a 341 and lost a scorecard playoff to Bartlett to finish fifth at the conference tournament.

That allowed Waubonsie Valley, who shot a 316 in second place, to come up and earn a tie with Neuqua in the season standings for the conference championship.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to win,” said Waubonsie Valley senior Jason Marrs, who won a playoff with teammate Zach Mayer to win UEC Valley Player of the Year honors. “We just had to play well as a team and pray that things fell into place. I came in and looked at the scores and I was like, maybe. I saw that Neuqua didn’t play well and I thought we may have a chance. I had no idea, didn’t even cross my mind that West Chicago could have the day they did.”

West Chicago, in its first season in the Upstate Eight after moving over from the DuPage Valley, posted two of the four lowest scores of the day in the Valley Division, Ryan Orr’s 73 and Nick Tomei’s 77, to set the stage. An 81 from Mike Miller and an 82 from Dino Parducci capped the Wildcats’ improbable tournament win.

“A lot of talk has been about our record, 1-5 going into the conference tournament, and the guys knew that going in and I think that helped fuel the fire because they worked really hard this season,” West Chicago coach Neal Golyshko said. “I didn’t have very high expectations going into today. I was hoping something good would happen, but I didn’t think it would be this good. I’m happy with how it ended up.”

Marrs led Waubonsie with a 73 to earn medalist honors. Mayer shot a 75. Tate Anderson (83) and Austin Connell (85) helped round out Waubonsie’s 316, one of the better 18-hole rounds the Warriors posted all season.

Thanks to West Chicago’s surprise round and Neuqua’s surprise struggles, Waubonsie wound up tied for the conference title.

“We were fortunate,” Waubonsie coach Dave Owles said. “We played good for us. For Jason, that’s great. He and Zach have been our 1-2 all year.

They’ve both been consistently very good. For them to finish 1-2 in the individual standings for player of the year is great.”

Neuqua’s lowest score was an 84 from Drew Rouches.

South Elgin finished third with a 329 behind 81s from Deven Meredith and Ethan Hildebrandt. Bartlett’s 341 was led by an 82 from Mike Coyne and an 83 from Chris Dungey. Metea Valley shot a 345 to finish sixth.

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