LASALLE – At the beginning of the day, the Sterling boys golf team had visions of a conference championship.
By the end of the day, the Golden Warriors were in anything but a celebratory mood, and looking forward to their next opportunity at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Course.
Sterling finished with a team score of 329 at the Northern Illinois Big 12 West Tournament on Wednesday, behind
Ottawa (319) and Geneseo
(324). Streator (353), LaSalle-Peru (359) and Dixon (362) rounded out the field.
The conference champion was determined by a combination of regular-season duals, in which teams received two points for each win, and the conference tournament, with three points awarded for each team defeated.
The standings at the beginning of the day were Geneseo 10, Sterling 8, Dixon 6, Ottawa 4, La-
Salle-Peru 2 and Streator 0. By the end, it was Geneseo 22, Ottawa 19, Sterling 17, Dixon and Streator tied at 6 and LaSalle-Peru 5.
Ryan Hurley was the top local finisher with an 8-over-par 80.
It tied Hurley for third place with Ottawa’s Dane Lehr, but the round had potential. Hurley hit 12 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens, but needed 39 putts on the sloping, quick Oak Ridge greens.
“Early on, I lipped out some putts and kind of lost confidence,” Hurley said. “The greens at Emerald Hill are really fast, and when they’re really fast, they break a lot. These don’t break as much, and I never adjusted to that. My speed was pretty good, but I had a lot of putts that just missed.”
Kyle Sinn was next for Sterling with an 82; Trevor Sisson had 83; Zach Rehmert and Austin Cook had 84s; and Nick Abele added a 93.
The Golden Warriors will be returning to Oak Ridge twice in the next 5 days, first for the L-P Invitational on Saturday, and then for the Class 2A LaSalle-Peru Regional on Tuesday. The top 3 teams and 10 individuals not on those teams advance to the Freeport Sectional on Oct. 14.
“[Wednesday] and Saturday are definitely practice rounds for Tuesday,” Sterling coach C.J. Wade said. “By then, we should know the course pretty well and what kind of shots we need to work on. Especially putting. I heard a lot of putting issues out there today.”
“We will have seen the course twice already,” Hurley added, “and we’ll be ready to go. If we can all play good at the same time, we should have no problem getting out.”
Dixon entered with a dual win over tournament champ Ottawa, but the Dukes struggled all day with just one score in the 80s. That was from Ryan Dixon, who carded an 87, with a whopping 40 putts.
“Putting was rough,” Dixon said. “I was hitting the ball well, but I did not putt well at all. It just killed me.”
Cord Schroeder and Jacob Bonnell each had 91s for Dixon, and Cole Ruckman added a 93 to round out the counting scores. John Brechon (96) and Austin Thomas (97) also competed.
The medalist was Geneseo’s Eric Dellett with a 4-over-par 76, one fewer than Ottawa’s Carter Piercy.
The NIB-12 East Tournament was also held at Oak Ridge, with Yorkville (308) edging out DeKalb (312) for the title. The Foxes had the day’s top two performers in Fred Washburn (70) and Evan Dill (71).
Top 3 teams
1. Ottawa 319
2. Geneseo 324
3. Sterling 329
Medalist: Eric Dellett (Geneseo) 76