Boys golf regional notebook: Will Connelly on track to get back to state

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WINNETKA — New Trier’s Will Connelly was an alternate for New Trier at the Class 3A boys golf state tournament last season, and coach Pete Drevline inserted him into the lineup for the second round.

But Connelly only got to play three holes at The Den at Fox Creek before rain suspended play and forced the IHSA to cancel the round altogether.

“It was the coolest thing to play there,” Connelly said of his brief experience in Bloomington. “It’s more intense than any other tournament I’ve ever played.

“But yes, it did leave a bitter taste in my mouth. It also inspired me for this year.”

Connelly is looking like someone who will get another chance at the state tournament.

On Tuesday at the Class 3A New Trier Regional at Winnetka Golf Club, the junior tied for the low round of the day with a 2-over 73. He lost to Loyola senior Mikey Abrahamson on the third playoff hole.

“I definitely was shaky at the beginning of the day,” Connelly said. “But I settled down, and it started to come together.”

The Trevians qualified for Monday’s sectional tournament at Old Oak Country Club in Homer Glen with their 309, which was good for second place behind Evanston’s 302.

One of Connelly’s highlights of the season came Saturday when he won the Bruce Slovitt Invitational, a 16-team tournament hosted by New Trier atWinnetka Golf Club, with a 4-under 67.

“I’m feeling good, “ Connelly said. “Things are going well, and I’m finding the right tempo with my swing. Most importantly, I’m mentally confident.”

Long time coming

Jackson Mihevc said he wasn’t sharp with his ball-striking Tuesday, but he managed to make the most out of his round.

The Evanston senior shot a 4-over 75 to tie for third and help the Wildkits to a 302, which earned them their first regional title since 1996.

“I was grinding,” said Mihevc, who rallied after a 5-over 40 on the front nine. “I didn’t have my ‘A’ game, but I did what I had to do.”

Mihevc said the victory over New Trier and third-place Loyola arms Evanston with confidence going into Monday’s sectional. The Wildkits haven’t played at the state tournament as a team since the 1959-60 school year.

“This is not something that happens to us all the time, so I think we have some momentum,” he said. “We know now we can beat them (Loyola and New Trier).”

Wildkits senior Jake Casati matched Mihevc with a 75 Tuesday. Senior Henry Gruger and junior Sam Knepper both followed with 76s.

“We’ve been trying and fighting to compete with (Loyola and New Trier), and we’ve been so close,” Evanston coach Jed Curtis said. “We knew one day we were going to do it. We’ve been knocking on the door, and we never gave up hope.”

Big win

Not long after one of his best friends, Glenbrook North senior Nick Hardy, won a regional title at Sportsman’s Country Club in Northbrook, Loyola senior Mikey Abrahamson did the same at Winnetka Golf Club.

Abrahamson tied Connelly with a 73 through 18 holes and then outlasted the New Trier junior with a par on the third playoff hole.

“I felt like I should have won it earlier,” said Abrahamson, who has verbally committed to Wisconsin. “I’m happy I won, but it was more important the team advanced.”

The Ramblers qualified for the Marist Sectional with a 314.

It was Abrahamson’s first regional championship. Abrahamson called the victory — his second of the season — probably the biggest of his career. He captured the CCL championship as a junior.

Individual Wolves moving on

Despite missing out on the sectional tournament as a team, Niles West qualified four players at Winnetka Golf Club.

Senior Nate Lee led the way with a 76. Sophomore Skylar LeVine (82), junior Bennett Underwood (90) and senior Patrick Corlaciu (92) all advanced to the Marist Sectional.

Oppenheimer leads Niles North

Senior Zach Oppenheimer paced the Vikings with a 95. He missed out an advancing as an individual by three strokes. Niles North took seventh with a 449.

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