NAPERVILLE – When Salil Khanduja sank his final putt for a birdie Wednesday at the Class 3A Naperville Central boys golf regional, there were smiles and handshakes all around.
And no wonder as the Waubonsie Valley senior had just completed a rare feat.
Khanduja finished with a 68 to win individual medalist honors at Naperbrook Golf Course in Plainfield, and the victory was his fourth consecutive regional tournament crown.
Khanduja has been regional champ in his freshman, sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
“He’s been a leader on our team since day one,” Warriors coach Eric Flodberg said. “It’s crazy that we were right here (at Naperbrook) his freshman year when he won his first. We’re going to have to look at the state records, but this is an unbelievable feat when you think of the talent and competition that is here.”
Benet won the team competition with a 292 to move on to Monday’s Plainfield North Sectional.
Second-place Waubonsie (292) and third-place Neuqua Valley (303) also advanced.
“Senior year is always a very sentimental time,” said Khanduja, who after graduation will head to Columbia University in New York City to play golf and study economics. “We recently had senior night and that was very sad for me knowing that I’m going to have to leave this all behind.
“But I’m excited for my new chapters. It’s been such a fun ride here with my boys, and it’s going to be tough to leave.”
Khanduja had six birdies on the day.
“Right at the start I was rolling. I was playing great and kept my foot on the pedal,” Khanduja said. “I have to admit I was very nervous on my last putt, but I was happy with the way I was able to battle with my emotions and get it done.”
Charles Davenport led the way for champion Benet with a 69, the second best score of the day.
The junior said it was a birdie on the ninth hole that propelled him to the stellar score.
“I hit a very nice 3-wood off the tee,” he said. “And I hit a smooth sand wedge to within three feet. That was a good hole to get my first birdie of the day. Then I was birdie-par-birdie (on holes 10-12) and went on from there.”
Benet sophomore Luke Donovan shot 73. Chris Wagner, of Waubonsie, Finn Reilly, of the Redwings and Vetri Anand from Neuqua Valley each carded 74s.
“It was a lot of consistent golf today,” said Anand, a senior. “Get on the green and two-putt for par.”
The top 10 golfers not part of qualifying teams also advanced to sectionals.
That list included Matt Sims, of Naperville Central, Griffin Mailhiot, of Plainfield East, Charlie Flaherty from Metea Valley, Joey Cerney from Naperville Central and Naperville North’s Will Nelson.
Also moving on as individuals are Kyle Bucher and Armaan Shah from Metea Valley; Zach Zafar and Trevor Schmidt of Naperville North, both freshmen; and another freshman, Ryan Kong of Naperville Central.
But the day and the accolades belonged to Khanduja.
“He’s able to deal with pressure situations far greater than the majority of the kids his age,” Flodberg said of his accomplished senior. “He has this extra gear he can turn on at the right time. He’s a great golfer, but he’s even a better person.”