West Suburban Silver stacked with talented teams

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Prior to the season, Oak Park-River Forest boys golf coach Doug Brown had a bold statement about his team’s conference, the West Suburban Silver.

“The conference is the toughest in the state,” Brown said, “regardless of sport.”

While that’s hard to quantify, there is no doubt that some of the best golf in the state the past few years has been played in the WSC Silver.

When defending Class 3A state champion Hinsdale Central, Lyons and Oak Park finished in the top three slots at the Batavia Invitational earlier this season, it showed just how dominant the league is.

Hinsdale Central won the rain-shortened state title last year with Lyons finishing third. In 2011, Lyons came in second at state while Oak Park made the second trip to state in the program’s history.

And it’s not just the large schools at the top that add to the legacy of the league. All seven teams in the West Suburban Silver have qualified for the state tournament in boys golf at least once in their histories. Glenbard West’s Kyle Kochevar was an all-state golfer in 2010. Downers Grove North’s Russell Katz took third in Class 3A in 2007.

“We talked about that last year, ‘let’s just get down there and see how it goes,’ ’’ Lyons coach Brian Kopecky said of his conversation with Hinsdale Central coach Jess Krueger at sectionals. “They’re a class act and good guys.”

Krueger, who had similar sentiments when discussing Lyons, coaches a team that could be a threat to win the program’s fifth state title come October.

Hinsdale Central’s Brian Dolehide was an all-state player last year, the 12th in program history, and is back this season. Sophomore Kenneth Li was the medalist at Batavia and freshman Brendan O’Reilly won the Illinois Junior Amateur over the summer.

Lyons might not be as deep as the past couple of years, but senior Dan Hudson is headed to Kansas to play next year and his brother Jon, a junior, provides a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup.

“I know my conference foe here can still shoot well,” Krueger said of Lyons.

Come Tuesday, Oct. 1, the conference tournament will tee off at Prairie Bluff Golf Course in Crest Hill with a deep pool of talent and a quality of play that will rival most regionals, or even sectionals.

“It gives us a good gauge going into regionals,” Brown said of the conference meet.

Every school in the league besides Oak Park (which will head to Glenbrook North for regionals) will play in the Class 3A York Regional on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at Maple Meadows in Wood Dale, and then at the Naperville Central Sectional at Springbrook the following Monday if they shoot low enough to qualify.

The goals will remain the same as they have the last few years for the West Suburban Silver schools.

“It’s like Brian and I talked about last year, we’ll just follow one another down to state and see what happens,” Krueger said.

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