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Tony Kestel, loaded Lincoln-Way Central focused on big picture

As a four-year starter at Lincoln-Way Central, Tony Kestel has tasted his fair share of victories.

The reigning SouthWest Suburban Red tournament champ has helped the Knights to a 35-4 dual meet record since 2010, including a 6-0 start this season.

But his lofty scores — he said his 18-hole average is around a 73 — aren’t just for the greens.

Kestel netted a 34 on his ACT and ranks No. 4 in his senior class of 487 students.

“I pride myself on working hard in the classroom,” Kestel said, noting that he’s interested in attending Notre Dame or Northwestern, “because that’s what’s going to lead you to a good college and job. You have to think about you’re future, and education is what sets you up for that.”

Central coach Don Hayes lauded Kestel for his work ethic in all endeavors.

“I could go on and on about Tony,” Hayes said. “He’s a great kid from a great family.”

Kestel and the Knights will look for their fifth consecutive SWSC Red title, a task that will be increasingly difficult with Lincoln-Way East joining from the Blue division.

A conference title is a nice feather in the cap, but aspirations for one of the top programs in the area start and end with what comes after league play.

“Obviously it would be a huge deal to go to state as a team, that’s the goal you want,” Kestel said. He’s been close before.

The Knights have advanced to sectionals in each of his seasons with team, but they’ve been nine, six and nine strokes out from qualifying for state.

“It’s pretty tough the first few days after,” Kestel said. “Really, you’re just going out and playing golf and trying to have fun. If it doesn’t work out, there’s not much you can do about it.”

Individually, Kestel missed state by a single stroke as a sophomore and three strokes last year.

“If I play my game, I’ll make it, and I’ll also help the team out in the process,” Kestel said. “I want to go out with a bang my senior year.”

He won’t need to worry about Central firing blanks. The Knights field another loaded roster capable of making noise in postseason play. Kestel said his duties as team captain have been easy with senior leaders in Luke Bannerman, Garret Gohacki and Kyle Tebelman.

Junior Scott Mueller and sophomore Anthony Bolden have also taken turns winning medalist honors.

“One through six, we’re pretty solid,” Kestel said. “Anybody can be medalist on any given day. It’s nice to know the guys behind you can all perform.”

They just have to follow the leader.

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