BARTLETT – Jesse Balc and Austin Frick have consistently been jockeying for Geneva’s top score all season long.
It’s apparently brought out the best in the two Vikings’ junior golfers.
”It’s actually great. He really popped up this year,” Balc said of Frick on Tuesday during the DuKane Conference boys golf meet. ”He’s been beating me, almost every time. It just feels like I need to get back out there and prove to myself that I can still hang with him.”
Balc took home medalist honors with a sparkling 73 on Tuesday. Frick, who was also named Conference Player of the Year post match, was just one stroke behind in the meet held at Bartlett Hills Golf Course.
”Every day, we compete with each other,” Frick said. “I think competition helps me become better because I’m trying to be the best I can. Especially when you’ve got Jesse, a teammate like that who’s a great golfer and has got a lot of skills I don’t have. I can learn from him.”
How Balc and Frick generally approach a given shot is part of that.
”His mindset is a lot different,” Frick said. ”He’s a lot riskier of a golfer and he’s willing to take the hard shot, where I’m more of a conservative guy [on the course]. Jesse kind of makes me have a different approach on the game. He’s not scared of anything. He won’t back down. He’ll go after every shot.”
For the second consecutive season, Geneva emerged as DuKane Conference champions, running away with a 20-stroke victory over runner-up Wheaton Warrenville South.
The Vikings (299), Tigers (319) and St. Charles North (323) finished in the top three. Batavia (329), St. Charles East (333) and Wheaton North (334) rounded out the top six.
Individually, Geneva’s Eli Sladkov took third, St. Charles North’s Clay Heilman fourth and Geneva’s Tyler Quisling fifth, all of them shooting scores of 76.
“I thought we had a really good year,” Geneva coach Eric Hatczel said. ”We cracked under 300 [as a team] one other time, where we kind of lived in that 300 to 320 range…we were primed coming into [Tuesday]. We took one loss at the very end of the season to Wheaton South; they played a great match at home. Shot a 151 and beat us in the head-to-head match.”
”But, I think if anything, it just made them more hungry because they knew conference was a week away,” Hatczel continued. And they buckled down in practice the last few days and yeah, they came out to play.”
Heilman, a North Stars sophomore, feels “really good right now” heading into postseason play.
”I feel like our team is strong. [Tuesday] was a little bit of an off day you can say, but I’m feeling next week with regionals, we’re going to compete pretty well,” Heilman said.
“I wanted our team to shoot under 310 [as an overall goal this season] for an 18-hole tournament,” Heilman continued. “We didn’t, but I definitely see progression in our play. Our three and four [top golfers in [Dan Rosengarten and Nick Francesconi]…recently they’ve been trying to get stronger and better.”
WW South senior Dan Zawoyski and teammate sophomore Luke Webber were tied for seventh after finishing with 79s.
Webber’s driver has been his most stark improvement throughout the season, as he’s gone from driving 240 yards to 290 by regular season’s end.
”It helps me with my wedge game, too,” Webber said. “Instead of having a seven-iron I’ll wedge it, so that’s probably the biggest part.”
“I haven’t had a great year overall, but recently, iron play has [been a nice surprise],” Webber continued. “…It went from bad to really good.”
Zawoyski helped him with his mental game on the course. Webber said Zawoyski taught him how to keep it in check.
”It was hitting a bad shot and getting mad at myself,” Webber said. “He kind of just told me: …‘Get your mental game in check.’ He has the best mental game on the team.”
Jake is a full-time sports reporter writing primarily for the Kane County Chronicle covering preps. His collective work is featured across several Shaw markets and platforms, including Friday Night Drive and Bears Insider. Jake began full-time in 2017.