BLOOMINGTON — Nate Lee stood in the tent next to the clubhouse staring at the scoreboard.
The Niles West senior didn’t like what he saw on his Saturday card, but he said he was happy to be where he was one last time.
Lee played at the Class 3A state tournament all four years in high school and improved each season. In his final appearance at The Den at Fox Creek, Lee shot 72-80 to post an 8-over 152 that tied him for 16th. He finished tied for 25th as a junior, tied for 86th as a sophomore and tied for 93rd as a freshman.
“Even though I didn’t play that well (in the second round), I am glad I got to end it here,” Lee said. “I couldn’t imagine not playing here one last time.”
Lee said it’s not clear if competitive golf is in his future. He remains undecided on whether or not to play in college.
He’s set on studying aerospace engineering somewhere, a field he’s been interested in since he was a young boy.
“Nothing grabbed me like that did,” he said. “Things like planes, missiles. I’d eventually like to get a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.”
Lee is considering attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Embry-Riddle, Illinois Wesleyan and Carthage.
“I do still want to play, but I am not sure right now,” he said.
For the first time in his career, Lee had company in Bloomington. Wolves sophomore Skylar LeVine tied for 74th in his inaugural appearance at the state tournament. He shot rounds of 80-85 for a 21-over 165.
New Trier senior Jack Hedstrom knew what was at stake Saturday as he waited on the 17th tee box.
Although the Trevians probably weren’t going to catch Hinsdale Central, they were competing with at least three other teams for second place at the Class 3A boys golf state tournament.
More than ever, every stroke mattered.
Coming off a triple bogey at No. 15 and a double bogey at No. 16, Hedstrom posted two pars on the final two holes at The Den at Fox Creek. Of the 30 golfers playing on a top-five team, he was one of the 14 to play the last two holes at even par or better
His par on the 160-yard 17th was particularly impressive considering it played as the hardest hole of the second round. Hedstrom closed out the day with an 11-over 83 after carding a 77 on Friday.
“We’ve been taught to always finish strong, to rally at the end of rounds,” Hedstrom said.
New Trier did enough to take second place, finishing at 40-over 616 and 13 strokes behind the Red Devils, who won for the second season in a row.
“We showed our character,” said New Trier coach Pete Drevline, whose team started the second round in fourth place. “We had nothing to lose that second day, and I am proud of the kids. We are happy to have a piece of hardware for the team.”
Hedstrom, one of three New Trier seniors to close out their prep careers in Bloomington, never got much playing time until this season. He wasn’t in the lineup for the state series as a junior.
“It was so good to be out there,” he said. “At New Trier, you have to play well to play because there’s always someone ready to take your place.”
After tying for the state title last season, junior Jack Junge again was tops on the team after shooting 75-77 for an 8-over 152, which tied him for 16th. Junior Will Connelly followed with a 10-over 154 (76-78). Senior David Brandfonbrener and sophomore Nick Iserloth both posted 13-over 157s. Senior Jack Wegener shot a 22-over 166 for the two days.
“No one really distinguished himself as the best player, maybe except for Will late in the season, so this shows our depth as a team,” Junge said of the runner-up finish.
NORTH SHORE COUNTRY DAY
In what North Shore Country Day coach Joe Bosco called a rebuilding season, the two-time defending Class 1A champion Raiders still finished second at the state tournament this season.
North Shore Country Day shot an 80-over 656 to finish nine strokes behind El Paso-Gridley at Prairie Vista in Bloomington. Raiders junior Andrew Blechman was the low player on the team, tying for 21st after shooting a 15-over 159 (79-80).
“Most people thought we wouldn’t get back downstate this year, except for the six boys and two coaches,” Bosco said. “We believed.”
Like most players Saturday, Maine East junior Orion Yamat struggled in cold and windy conditions during the second round of the Class 3A tournament. After posting a 2-over 74 Friday, he slipped to an 82 to finish tied for 31st with a 12-over 156 in his first trip to the state tournament. … Notre Dame senior Sean Furman got off to one of the best starts Friday by making four birdies in his first six holes to briefly lead the field. But he ultimately fell down the leaderboard and finished tied for 70th (78-86). … Loyola sophomore Michael Banas impressed in his rookie appearance at The Den at Fox Creek by tying for 49th following rounds of 78-82. Teammate Chris Nolan, a senior, tied for 74th (82-83). … The second-shortest hole on the course proved to be one of the most difficult, especially Saturday. The 160-yard, par-3 17th, framed by water on the left and bunkers on the right, surrendered only three birdies over two rounds. On Saturday, with the wind howling, more than half of the 111 players carded a bogey or worse.