Reid Hoffman never wandered too far from the scoreboard Monday after finishing his round at the Class 1A Westminster Christian Sectional at the Golf Club of Illinois.
For 3 hours, he nervously paced around the patio outside the clubhouse. He'd return to the board when new results were added, then continue wondering whether his 85 would hold up.
He knew from his junior season the feeling of disappointment when his score turned up just a stroke short of a trip to state.
When the wait was all over, his score was three stokes below the cutoff of 88. Years of work had paid off with a berth to this weekend's state golf meet at Prairie Vista Golf Course in Bloomington.
"This is the first time that I've made it to state," Hoffman said. "I was so nervous waiting all that time. After missing last year, I just had feeling it was going to happen again.
"It's means everything to me to make it this year. I've worked a long time for it."
Hoffman was hoping for a better score and a little less stress at the sectional, but wind, blustery temperatures and a tough course made it hard on the entire field. Only four scores came in below 80.
The consolation – the course and the weather will likely not be as tough when he tees off today at 9:33 a.m.
He'll be in a group with Chicago Parker's Cameron Carone, Princeville's Cody Cramton and Westminster Christian's Conner Rejman.
"I don't think it can be any tougher than the conditions here," Hoffman said after sectional. "To have played pretty well gives me a little bit of confidence. We know that the course at state isn't quite as tough as this one."
Hoffman isn't the only making his first trip to state from the area. Eastland's Devin Hartman shot a 78 at the Westminster Christian. He'll be a part of the last group to tee today at 10:27 at the 10th hole today.
The lowest sectional score was a 69 carded by El Paso-Gridley's Brandon Mounce at Shewami Country Club in Watseka.
Hartman, a junior, will get a taste of state this year with another shot to make it next year.
Also making his first state appearance is Fulton senior Logan Rascher, who shot an 87 on Monday.
In Class 2A, the Sauk Valley will be represented by two golfers at Weibring Golf Course.
Sterling's Andrew Blackburn returns to state after placing 15th in 2011. Blackburn will be joined by sophomore teammate Ryan Hurley.
"This is my last year down at state, and I'm not going to hold anything back," Blackburn said. "I've got two rounds to prove myself to the rest of the state, and I'm going to do what I have to do to do that."
Blackburn shot a 79 at the sectional in Belvidere on Monday. Hurley scored an 84.
"I've never played there before, so I'm going to take my practice round seriously and get everything down I can from Andrew and my coaches," Hurley said. "It's definitely a confidence boost to play as well as I did today in these conditions."