ROCK FALLS – Golf is an individual sport, but the team aspect took center stage at the Rock Falls Invitational on Saturday afternoon at Rock River Golf and Pool.
Sterling and Rock Falls both finished with team scores of 321 to post the low score in a nine-team Class 2A field. It was the Golden Warriors, however, who took home the first-place trophy by virtue of a lower score from their sixth man, Nick Abele.
"We could have played better, but we're coming away with the W," Sterling's Austin Cook said.
Cook paced Sterling with a 7-over-par 77, good for second place overall. He was backed by Ryan Hurley with 78, Zach Rehmert with 81 and Kyle Sinn with 85. Hurley earned the fifth-place medal.
Andrew Tichler was low for Rock Falls with a 77, good for third place. Cooper Kilberg and Aaron Frank followed with 81s, while Carrigan Chouinard added an 82.
That left the Golden Warriors and Rockets with 321 for their four low scores, one fewer than Geneseo at 322. The tiebreaker is the fifth score, but Sterling's Lucas Campbell and Rock Falls' Matt Long both had 86.
That left it up to the teams' sixth men. Abele had an 88, while the Rockets' Trace Hippen had 91.
Rock Falls coach Tom Frank was pleased with his team, which posted a low 18-hole score for the season.
"One of our goals today was to be in the top two," Frank said. "We knew Sterling would be a battle, and we knew Geneseo would be a battle. With Sterling, it's a good, friendly rivalry. The coaches are friends, the players are friends. That's the cool part about it."
Dixon finished eighth as a team with a 364 total. Ryan Dixon paced the Dukes with an 80.
The medalist was Rochelle's Aaron's Mehrings, who carded a 73 on his first trip around the Rock Falls course.
"The biggest part for me was putting and just keeping it in play," Mehrings said. "The front nine here is a lot like our course. You've got to keep it in play and hit the greens."
In the Class 1A portion of the tournament, Riverdale posted a score of 349 to run away with top honors. The Rams' Bentley Sweet and Jake Bussert went 1-2 with scores of 84 and 85, respectively.
St. Bede was runner-up with a 367. Rounding out the top five were Forreston (370), Morrison (376) and Newman (379).
Newman's Todd Nelson finished third overall with an 86, while Morrison's Brock Smith and Bureau Valley's Ryan Young each had 87s. Smith took fourth place via a scorecard playoff.