HUNTLEY – Huntley boys golf coach Jim Rolando had been taking advantage of the middle portion of the season when his team didn't play conference opponents to tweak his lineup.
Over the past few weeks he moved players up and down the lineup, played kids from JV at the varsity level and shuffled up groups. His players may have lost a little edge because of the shakeups, but when Huntley's bus had mechanical issues returning from Hampshire on Tuesday, Rolando had a long chat with his team while they waited for a second bus to pick up the stranded team.
He assured his players they would be back to playing at full force and urged them to make a strong push heading into the final few weeks of the season. The talk worked, and its effects were evident during Wednesday's 148-160 victory over Fox Valley Conference Valley Division opponent Prairie Ridge at Pinecrest.
"We were just trying some things out and seeing what type of play we had at other spots in our lineup," Rolando said. "Now, we have some big tournaments coming up in a couple weeks, and I really liked what I saw from the guys tonight."
The Red Raiders (8-0) had all four of their scoring golfers card rounds in the 30s. The result was the lowest score by a Huntley on the back nine at Pinecrest despite the unfavorable weather conditions that halted play for more than an hour.
Lightning, heavy rain and loud claps of thunder made the severe weather alert system at Pinecrest sound in the middle of the round. The piercing noise caught up to the golfers' ears as some were readying to tee off while others stood in the middle of a fairway. After the hour break, the course played entirely differently because of the amount of water on the course.
But for Huntley junior Trent Craig, it didn't seem to matter, as he carded an even-par 36. Craig hit all nine greens in regulation and was able to par each hole.
"It was a pretty boring round for me," he said with a laugh. "I was pretty calm out there throughout the round, and when we went back out for the second time I knew that everything would be slowed. I just wish I would've had two birdies and two bogeys so I could have some highlights."
Riley Wicks also fired a 36 for Huntley, and teammates Jake Grabner (37) and Brad Spoeth (39) turned in solid scores in the win.
"I'm usually a 2-over-par guy, but today I played well," Wicks said. "The break made it a little tough, but I knew the rain made everything really wet so I knew I could be more aggressive when approaching the greens."
Prairie Ridge coach John Powell was pleased with his team's performance on a tough day. Ethan Farnam led the way for the Wolves (5-2) with a 1-over 37, and teammate Connor Sullivan shot a 39.
"I played all right," said Farnam, who was 1 over when play was halted as he was about to hit his approach shot on 14. "I missed some shots, though."
Huntley will play in two more invitationals and have two more dual meets against FVC Valley opponents before the FVC Tournament, and the Wolves will play four more times before the conference tournament.