Boys Golf: Batavia finds its ‘A’ game at the right time, wins regional title

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AURORA – High school conference golf tournaments are a great competition. But when regional play comes around, the intensity goes up a level.

It’s simple. If a player or a team has a bad day on the course, season over.

The Batavia boys golf team finished in the second half of the standings at last week’s DuKane Conference tournament.

The team wanted obviously to get back on track and did in a big way at Wednesday’s Class 3A West Aurora Regional at Orchard Valley Golf Course in Aurora.

The Bulldogs won the competition with a 304 and advance as a team, along with Metea Valley and Waubonsie Valley, to Monday’s Oswego Sectional at Blackberry Oaks Golf Course in Bristol.

Metea shot a 309, Waubonsie 313 with Neuqua (317), Naperville Central (322), West Aurora (335), Naperville North (343) and East Aurora (510) making up the final standings.

“We didn’t play well in conference, but we’ve had good days of practice and we’ve practiced here,” Batavia coach Tim DeBruycker said. “We’re comfortable with this course. Our goal was top three. This is great.”

Leading Batavia individually was Gavin Newkirk who shot a 70.

“This is pretty amazing. I am a senior and we have never made it out (of regionals) as a team,” Newkirk said.

Also contributing to the final team score were Andrew Freedlund (74), Tanner Gaulik (79) and Jimmy Haug (81). Also competing were Adam Warner and Ian Steelglove.

“It definitely helped a lot practicing here,” Gaulik said.

The meet medalist was Waubonsie’s Salil Khanduja who racked up a blazing 4-under-par 68.

“I didn’t start out well. I had a double-bogey on No. 2. I told myself I had a lot of golf to play and trust my game and remember the work I put in all year,” he said.

Arjun Iyenngar followed Khanduja with an 80. Chris Wagner shot an 81 and Adam Torrean an 84. Eshann Punwani and Anthony Greco were also in action on Wednesday.

Khanduja said Waubonsie is confident about the sectional competition.

“We feel like we can (advance). We’re playing good and feeling good,” he said.

Metea’s four scores that went to its final total were all below 80. Kyle Bucher led with a 76 followed by Patrick McGrath (77), Nick Schroeder (78) and Patrick Davis (78). Charlie Flaherty and Rahil Shah also competed.

“It’s good to move on and have an opportunity to go to state,” Bucher said.

The top 10 golfers not on a qualifying team also advanced to Monday’s sectional. Top qualifier was Naperville Central’s Joey Cerney with a 72.

“I think I’m playing good and in control. I had six birdies,” he said.

Cerney will be joined by teammates Brady Schultze (82), Matt Sims (84) and Kyle Closset (84).

Four Neuqua golfers also individually qualified: Ryan Watson (75), Emerson Zhang (80), Ian Danielson (81) and Calvin Steger (81).

Andrew Barcarella (78) and Kyle Haynes (81) are going for West Aurora.