Five sectional qualifiers return for area golf teams — Jaden Eggers, of Princeton, Landen Plym and Grant Plym, of Hall, and Brendan Pillions and Jake Delaney, of St. Bede, and they all look to make it back this year.
Delaney, the reigning BCR Boys Golfer of the Year, advanced to state.
Here’s previews of each of the BCR-area teams:
Coach: Jack Gustafson.
Top returners: Cooper Balensiefen (Sr.), Seth Spratt (Sr.), Parker Stier (Sr.).
Worthy of note: The Storm have a good mix of young and old, led by seniors Balensiefen, Spratt and Stier. Gustafson believes they have plenty of support with sophomores Landen Birdsley and Landon Smith providing a boost to the varsity lineup. “I think our underclassmen will play a key role on the varsity this year,” Gustafson said. “We should have some good competition for the varsity spots. We have a lot of golfers who show a real passion for the game.” Other squad members include senior Daiquan Owen, juniors Tyler Birkey and Blake Mattingly and sophomores Colin Stabler, Eli Splitt and Drake Michlig. Freshmen joining the team this fall are Sean Kendall, Atticus Middleton, Wyatt Novotny and Logan Philhower. ... First meet for the Storm will be Tuesday, Aug 16 vs. Hall at Spring Creek.
Coach: Brandon Crawford.
Top returners: Jarrett Carr (Sr.), Jaden Eggers (Sr.), Karter Patterson (Sr.).
Worthy of note: Eggers’ star shined bright after he took over the Tigers’ No. 1 position last year, leading the Tigers with a 41 average. He was a three-time meet medalist, 12-time scoring leader and 2A sectional qualifier. “Jaden has worked extremely hard this offseason and it shows,” Crawford said. “I’m very pleased with his ball striking and how much his golf IQ has developed as a result of his involvement/participation in offseason tournaments through the Illinois Valley High School Golf League and the Prep Tour.” Carr, who Crawford said “defines consistency,” was a two-time team scoring leader, averaging a 45 in his first year on varsity last year. Patterson averaged a 44 and was a two-time meet medalist and four-time team leader, missing out on qualifying for sectional by just one stroke ... Other returners are juniors Michael Ellis, Landen Koning, Tyson Phillips, Cail Piper and sophomores Wyatt Koning, Jordan Reinhardt and Luke Smith. The Tigers welcome senior Grady Thompson, a basketballer out for the first time trading the corner 3 for a pair of Mizuno’s, Crawford said, and Jesse Wright, who played golf as a sophomore. Other newcomers are sophomores Nolan Kloepping and Michael Kurth and freshman Andrew Boughton. ... Princeton’s first meet will be Monday, Aug 15 at Wyaton Hills vs. Putnam County.
Coach: Rich Cummings
Top returning players: Jake Delaney (Sr.), Brendan Pillion (Sr.), Logan Potthoff (Jr.), Luke Tunnell (Jr.)
Top newcomers: Ryan Slingsby (Jr.)
Worth noting: The Bruins return an experienced and talented core led by Delaney, who advanced to the second day of the state tournament last season. “Brendan and Jake bring a lot of experience to the table,” Cummings said. “They are really knowledgeable and they enjoy helping their teammates. They’re tremendous leaders, they’re great role models in practice and they have great work ethics.” The Bruins still need to find golfers to fill the Nos. 5-6 spots in the lineup. Slingsby looks to fill the spot after playing JV last season and working on his game a lot this summer. Cummings said there will be “youth and inexperience” in the No. 6 spot. The Bruins hope their strong top four lead them to success. “They want to advance to sectional as a team. That’s the goal they set for themselves,” Cummings said. “They want to get back to that level we were at a couple years ago (in 2020). They’d like to be in the running at conference, but it’s a tough golf conference and they know that. They look forward to competing and being in every match.” ... Other squad members are juniors Henry Mertel, sophomores Dominic Fonderili and Kaden Nauman and freshmen Zach Husser, Noah Buck, Caden Carls, Christopher Gedraitis and Johnnie Brown. .... The Bruins will tee off the season Thursday, Aug. 18 at Kewanee.
Coach: Mason Kimberley.
Top returning players: Landen Plym (So.), Grant Plym (Sr.), Josh Scheri (Sr.)
Top newcomers: Micky Pienta (Sr.); Luke Orlandi (Jr.), Geno Baracani (Jr.), Jacob Diaz (So.), Lukas Manrriquez (So.)
Worth noting: Landen Plym is one of the area’s top golfers with an area-best 38.5 average last fall to go along with wins at the Princeton and Rock Falls invitationals and a third-place regional finish. “Landen Plym is looking to repeat his extremely successful freshman season and hopefully earn a berth to the state finals,” Kimberley said. “He added some distance this offseason so he can attack the par 5s and par 4s.” Grant Plym and Scheri also provide experience, while Pienta, Orlandi and Baracani look to step into larger roles. Diaz “put in a lot of work this offseason” and is expected to contribute on the varsity, while Manrriquez is a DePue transfer expected to contribute as well. “Although the varsity team is not quite as deep top to bottom as last year, we still have the firepower at the top of the lineup to compete with really good teams,” Kimberley said. “The key to the season is going to be how quickly the younger players can develop. … After missing qualifying for sectional as a team by just three strokes last year, this squad is really itching for another opportunity to qualify. If we work hard enough, I have every reason to believe we can make it there.” ... Other team members are junior Anthony Fiocchi and freshmen Logan DeArcos, Johnni Escatel, Clayton Fusinetti, Cody Orlandi and Vincent Worden. Jamie Valadez, a sophomore girl, also joins the team. ... The Red Devils will open the season Monday at Geneseo.
Coach: Zach Ross.
Top returning players: Jordan Harris (Jr.), Jackson Rodgers (Sr.), Wes Wilson (Sr.), Hayden Wittenauer (Sr.).
Worth noting: The Clippers are loaded with experience and all four have worked on their games in the offseason. “They played quite a bit of golf through the summer and are playing quite a bit better than they were last year,” Ross said. Last fall, Wilson had a 39.8 average, earned unanimous All-Northwest Upstate Illini Conference honors and was a sectional qualifier. “I’m setting our goals pretty high this year,” Ross said. “We’re looking at possibly winning the conference, and if we’re healthy toward the end of the year, advancing out of the regional.” Rogers will miss the first three to five weeks of the season with a foot injury. Ross said he feels Wilson and Wittanauer, and Rogers if healthy, have a chance to advance to the state meet. ... Other squad members are Carson Barlow (So.), Griffin Bushman (Jr.) Luke Corcoran (Jr.), Bryson Full (So.), Jordan Harris (Jr.), Logan O’Brien (So.)