High school boys golf: 2017 season preview capsules

Sarah Nader file photo –
Jacobs' Garrett Tighe is back for his junior season. He is a two-time sectional qualifier.
Sarah Nader file photo – Jacobs' Garrett Tighe is back for his junior season. He is a two-time sectional qualifier.

Fox Valley Conference


Coach: Chris Gotsch (fourth season)

Top returners: Trevor Brandon, jr.; Trevor Beaugureau, so.; Ben Stogis, sr.; Patrick Tobin, jr.

Key newcomers: Adam Loch, sr.; Mark Thornton, so.; Zach Verback, sr.; Cole Seeger, so.

Worth noting: The Trojans’ No. 1 golfer, Zach Beaugureau, graduated after taking third at the Class 3A state meet. ... C-G took third at the FVC Tournament. Brandon and Stogis finished sixth and 11th, respectively, earning all-FVC honors. ... The Trojans took second at regionals, finishing behind Prairie Ridge.

“We have a young but experienced team this year with some great opportunities for our seniors to step in and start contributing at the varsity level,” Gotsch said. “These guys play one of the hardest courses in McHenry County (Foxford Hills in Cary), and we can see the improvement that level of difficulty has cultivated.”

Crystal Lake Central

Coach: Derek Crabill (fifth season)

Top returner: Maverick Edwards, sr.

Key newcomer: Spencer Thome, so.

Worth noting: Zach Tuszynski advanced to the Class 3A state meet last year, but graduated. ... Edwards, a Northwest Herald All-Area honorable mention as a junior, is the top returner for the Tigers after qualifying for sectionals. He carded a 79 in regionals, which was one stroke better than Tuszynski. ... Central finished eighth at the FVC Meet.

“[Edwards] will be the golfer we look to for consistency, but we need to continue to try and develop younger talent to support him,” Crabill said.

Crystal Lake South

Coach: Curt Wadlington (12th season)

Top returners: John Lishchynsky, so.; Casey Hunter, jr.; Ethan Wiggs, so.; Griffin Coakley, jr.; Bruce Smith, sr.

Key newcomer: Ricky Falbo, fr.

Worth noting: The Gators were the surprise of the FVC last season, emerging as the runner-up to Prairie Ridge. ... South finished third at regionals and advanced to sectionals. ... The Gators’ top golfer, Nate Zacher, was third at the conference meet, but graduated. ... South had four all-conference golfers, including Hunter, Lishchynsky and Coakley. Hunter placed fifth at the FVC Meet with a 79. He then carded a 79 at regionals.

“We will look to build on last year’s momentum with the youth movement within the program,” Wadlington said. “The possibilities are abundant for us this year.”


Coach: Bob Sweeney (14th season)

Top returners: J.P. Anderson, sr.; Josh Zahara, sr.

Key newcomers: Joe Knapp, jr.; Jake Zirlin, fr.; Alex Matsas, fr.; Matt McQuillen, so.

Worth noting: Anderson was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection and averaged 78.3 for 18 holes. He was ninth at the FVC Meet and runner-up at regionals with a 75. ... Zahara was an honorable mention pick after a stellar finish to his junior year. He fired an 82 at regionals to join Anderson as a sectional qualifier and was two shots away from state. ... The Chargers took seventh at the FVC Meet.


Coach: Jeff Howe (12th season)

Top returners: Craig Bracke, jr.; Mark Spitzer, jr.

Key newcomers: Aaron Staszewski, jr.; Justin Heusmann, jr.; Alec Korabik, so.; Bobby Stephenson, so.; CJ Lindquist, so.

Worth noting: The Whip-Purs went 4-4 in conference duals last year and took sixth at the FVC Meet. ... Hampshire lost four seniors to graduation, while Spitzer returns as the team’s lone all-conference member. ... The Whips tied with D-C for sixth place at regionals and advanced three to sectionals. Spitzer had the best finish of the three ... Bracke and Spitzer both enter their third season on varsity.

“This year’s team is young, and we look to move up a spot or two over last year’s finish,” Howe said. “Bracke and Spitzer provide some experience at the top of the roster.”


Coach: Collin Kalamatas (second season)

Top returners: Garrett Heinke, jr.; Michael Runsey, jr.; Youssef Abbadi, sr.; Dylan Brown, sr.

Key newcomers: Jack Wagner, jr.; Ben Saiz, jr.; Trevor Book, fr.

Worth noting: Wagner is a junior transfer from Faith Lutheran who qualified for the Class 1A sectionals last season. He won five McHenry County Junior Golf Association tournaments over the summer, taking first at the Tournament of Champions in the boys junior division. ... The Red Raiders placed ninth at the FVC Meet. ... Heinke and Book also enjoyed productive summers in MCJGA events.

“Last year, we showed some flashes of potential late in the season with some lower scores from some young players,” Kalamatas said. “We are looking forward to continuing to build on that, as well as welcoming in a talented player in Jack Wagner. Adding him to our already talented group is going to push us into a much more competitive position than we were in a year ago.”


Coach: Gary Conrad (fourth season)

Top returners: Garrett Tighe, jr.; Riley Coakley, sr.; Daniel Leitner, sr.; John Wilken, sr.; Jarod Gray, jr.

Worth noting: The Golden Eagles return their entire varsity team, putting them in prime position to compete for an FVC title. ... Tighe, a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team pick for the second straight year, is a two-time sectional qualifier. He was runner-up at the FVC Meet with a 77 and placed second at regionals with a 75. ... Leitner returns as an all-conference golfer and sectional qualifier. ... Jacobs took fourth at the FVC Meet.

“We are very excited about this upcoming season,” Conrad said. “We have high expectations, and will be looking to win a conference title and make our first trip down state as a team. A bit ambitious, but I think we have the talent and work ethic to do it.”


Coach: Ryan Ellison (11th season)

Top returners: Truman Keppy, so.; Ian Grubich, sr.; Spencer Rudd, jr.

Key newcomer: Liam Nielson, so.

Worth noting: The Warriors took fifth at the FVC Meet, led by graduate Brendon LoPriesti, who placed eighth. ... Keppy, a Northwest Herald All-Area honorable mention as a freshman, shot a 76 at regionals, six strokes behind the winner, and was one of three McHenry golfers to advance to sectionals.

“We are a young team with some great talent,” Ellison said. “I think we’ll be a competitive force in the conference this year. I’m really excited to see these young guys take the stage, and show the FVC what they’re made of.”

Prairie Ridge

Coach: Jonathan Powell (fifth season)

Top returners: Cameron Karney, sr.; James Michaelson, sr.; Joe Thompson, sr.; Dominic Leli, jr.

Key newcomer: Hunter Fredrick, jr.

Worth noting: The Wolves were the FVC champions for the first time since 2004 and clinched their first regional title in 12 years. ... Farnam, the two-time defending Northwest Herald Boys Golfer of the Year, graduated and is playing at Northwestern. ... Karney was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection and advanced to the Class 3A state meet, where he tied for 23rd. He was fourth at the FVC Meet with a 79, second at regionals with a 75, and fourth at sectionals with a 75. ... Thompson won the MCJGA boys senior division championship over the summer.

“We really believe there has been a great culture produced in the Prairie Ridge golf program,” Powell said. “We look forward to continuing to build on that and, hopefully, compete at a high level throughout the season.”

Kishwaukee River Conference


Coach: Rich Petska (ninth season)

Top returners: Austin Gratz, sr.; Alec Garza, sr.; Ray Gerhardt, jr.; James Crout, so.; Hunter Gratz, so.

Key newcomer: Jacob Chupich, fr.

Worth noting: The Hornets graduated four golfers from last year, while Austin Gratz and Garza are the only returning seniors. ... Harvard finished sixth at the KRC Meet and sixth at regionals but did not qualify anyone to sectionals. ... Crout had the team’s lowest score at regionals.

“With only one junior and one freshman out for the team, we’ll be dependent on our seniors for leadership and our sophomore group to step up and fill in the gaps at both levels,” Petska said. 


Coach: Don Bentz (first season)

Top returners: Jay Balfanz, sr.; Trevor Wotring, sr.

Key newcomers: Jake Berge, sr.; Jerry Camardelle, sr.; Bryce Herr, sr.; Tyler Malueg, so.; Kyle Muehlfelder, jr.; Anthony Murtaugh, jr.

Worth noting: Bentz takes over for Evan Haase, who coached one season. ... Johnsburg finished fifth at the KRC Meet last year but returns a good number of upperclassmen, including three seniors and two sophomores. ... Grant Fisher was the team’s top golfer last season but graduated. Fisher was a sectional qualifier after making it to the Class 2A state meet the year before.

“The Skyhawks will rely on Balfanz and Wotring with a solid group of underclassmen,” Bentz said. “We should compete for the conference.”


Coach: Rafael Martinez (first season)

Top returner: Brady Cannon, so.

Key newcomer: Tyler Nelsen, fr.

Worth noting: Martinez is in his first season, taking over for J.D. Peters, who coached 19 years. ... The Indians finished third at the KRC Tournament, led by a medalist performance by Connor Wascher. He also was the team’s lone sectional qualifier. ... Marengo took fifth at regionals. ... The Indians lose their top five golfers to graduation.


Coach: Brad Tichenor (11th season)

Top returners: Everett Robinson, sr.; Matt Eskuri, sr.; Jake Thoma, sr.; Jackson Bolman, jr.; Connor Lindley, jr.

Key newcomers: Eric Manuel, sr.; Hunter Volkmar, jr.

Worth noting: The Rockets finished second in the KRC Tournament, five shots behind Burlington Central for the conference title. Volkmar tied for third by shooting an 81. ... R-B finished fourth as a team at regionals and had five individual qualifiers for sectionals: Bolman, Lindley, Robinson, graduate Josh Hansel and Eskuri. ... Bolman carded an 85 for R-B’s best finish at sectionals.

“We have a lot of experience coming back from last year’s team,” Tichenor said. “Hopefully, we will continue to build on our past successes.”

Woodstock co-op

(with Woodstock North)

Coach: Brent Filetti (second season)

Top returners: Evan Bridges, jr.; Brandon Gulli, sr.

Worth noting: Both Gulli and Bridges earned all-conference honors last season in the inaugural season of the six-team KRC. ... Woodstock co-op placed fourth at the KRC Tournament, three shots behind Richmond-Burton for a top-three finish.

“We would like to improve on our third-place finish in the KRC from a year ago,” Filetti said. “We are proud to call Bull Valley Golf Club our new home and look to get better each and every day we are together.”

East Suburban Catholic Conference

Marian Central

Coach: Kevin Smith (second season)

Top returners: James Lydon, sr.; Andrew Lydon, jr.

Key newcomers: Dante Bucci, sr.; Brogan Pivnicka, so.; Bennett Arza, so.; Jon Wegener, sr.; Quinton Urban, so.; Alex Gilmore, so.

Worth noting: The Hurricanes will look different this season after graduating seven seniors. ... Marian Central placed eighth at the ESCC Tournament last year. ... Jack Moscinski, a 2017 graduate, was the team’s only all-conference golfer. ... Marian won a Class 2A regional by five strokes last season, with James and Andrew Lydon both figuring in the top-four team scoring.

“I’m looking forward for the returning players to step up and work hard to fill any gaps we may have,” Smith said. “I’m also looking forward to see how many arriving freshmen go out for the team, to continue to build a solid program for the future.”

– Alex Kantecki

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