LaSALLE – Sometimes, it’s important to have selective memory.
Saturday morning, Trevor Sisson put not one, but two balls into the water hazard on the second hole at Senica’s Oak Hills Golf Course. But he recovered pretty well after writing “11” on his scorecard, and it carried over to Tuesday’s Class 2A LaSalle-Peru Regional on the same course.
“When I pulled up to that hole, I was really nervous about it,” Sisson said. “I was trying to make a good score, and I got par, but I admit, I was happy to get through that hole.”
Sisson came out white-hot and led Sterling with a 79, helping the Warriors to their third straight regional title with a total of 332. In their wake, completing a Sauk Valley sweep were Rock Falls (338) and Dixon (340).
“I don’t know if it’s been done in Sterling history,” Sterling coach C.J. Wade said of the three-peat, “so to put these kids in the history books makes me proud as a coach.”
Ryan Hurley (80), Zach Rehmert (85) and Austin Cook (88) filled out Sterling's counted scores.
Ottawa senior Dane Lehr took medalist honors with a 76, but his Pirates totaled 342 for fourth place.
After shooting 85 at the LaSalle-Peru Invite on Saturday, Sisson pounded the fairways for about three-quarters of his round Tuesday. He birdied No. 5 and was still 3-over through 15, but stumbled a little down the stretch, visiting the beach on three of the last four holes.
“He needs the practice,” his dad, Mark, joked on No. 17, shortly after Sisson’s tee shot sliced into the bunker guarding the par 3’s green on the right side.
“I finished good on the par 3 out of the sand, but I’d rather not be there,” Trevor Sisson said. “Sand will hurt you.”
Moments later, Rock Falls’ Cooper Kilberg striped an iron, the ball’s path starting at the stick and never leaving it. It came up 10 feet short, and he settled for par. But the shot stuck in Sisson’s memory.
“That was a great shot and one of the greatest I saw in the group all day,” he said. “It outdid my shot by a lot.”
A lot of folks leave Oak Ridge flustered after the epic but daunting No. 18, a 361-yard gem that dives into a gully, then asks the golfer to climb back up, only to be greeted by the course’s most undulating green – and that’s saying something.
But, thanks to his playing parter, Rehmert, Rock Falls senior Andrew Tichler was able to head to the clubhouse head held high.
Rehmert, a Sterling senior who shot an 85, scalded his second shot to a few feet beyond the green. Tichler lofted his approach to the same area, about 3 feet closer to the fringe. Rehmert’s fringe putt rolled a good two dozen feet past the hole. Tichler followed suit, only his traveled about a dozen feet too far. After Rehmert putted twice more, Tichler followed the line right into the cup.
“That helped me out a lot,” Tichler said. “Coming back, making the par putt was easy.”
Tichler was a shot off medalist honors with a 77. Aaron Frank rattled off three straight birdies on Nos. 8-10 en route to an 81. His second shot hit the pin on No. 9.
“He wanted to shoot in the mid-70s, but he struggled down the stretch,” Aaron’s father and coach, Tom Frank, said. “But that’s golf, and he knew the team was most important. It’s been about 10 years since Rock Falls got through the regional.”
The 15-year Rockets coach said his son asked assistant coach and Rock Falls alumnus Jarred Hippen “how to stay on fire” at the turn.
“He told him, just try for pars, and if a birdie rolls in, great,” Tom Frank said.
For a moment, it was brilliant advice.
After a conference meet to forget – Dixon took dead last a week ago at Oak Ridge – the Dukes rode outstanding performances by Austin Thomas (78) and Ryan Dixon (80) to sectionals.
It would be tough to form a better lasting memory than Thomas did, pouring in a 27-foot, uphill birdie putt on that formidable 18th hole.
Thomas gladly shared his ironic mantra.
“Just play every hole like it’s your last hole,” Thomas said. “We were underdogs coming in. You don’t necessarily take more risks, but you play with more fire than you would, otherwise.”