BULL VALLEY – Spencer Shireman hasn't spent much time on a golf course this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Crystal Lake South senior-to-be nonetheless had a strong tournament debut.
Shireman carded a 5-over-par 76 in the first round of the McHenry County Junior Amateur at Boone Creek Golf Club Wednesday to stay in the hunt for the two-day, 36-hole McHenry County Junior Golf Association tournament title.
Shireman, making his first tournament appearance of the summer, is one of three current or former Crystal Lake South golfers in the top five of the boys senior division after Day 1.
2019 Gators graduate Griffin Coakley shot a 3-over 74 and is in second, Shireman is in third, and sophomore-to-be Nate Stewart (77) is tied for fourth with Elgin Academy's Nikiel Karna (77).
St. Charles East's Jake Daeschler, who tied for 15th at last year's IHSA Class 3A Boys Golf State Tournament as a junior, is six shots in the lead after shooting a personal-best 3-under 68, beating his previous low score (69) by a shot.
Daeschler, Coakley, Shireman and Karna will tee off in the final group of the boys senior division at 8:40 a.m. Thursday.
"Honestly, I thought it could have been a lot lower," Shireman said. "A lot of birdie putts that I just didn’t read correct, just didn’t get down. I missed a bunch of them, but I’m ready to come out here and go low tomorrow."
Shireman, who made three consecutive birdies on the front nine at one point, said that he is looking forward to playing with a former teammate – even though the two did not match up a lot during their time in high school.
"I didn’t really play with Griffin that much," Shireman said. "We had a couple of matches where we would mess around ... but I never got a chance to actually play him one-on-one."
Coakley was part of South's 3A state-qualifying team in 2018, and even predicted a long postseason run before the season started that year by saying, 'it's state or bust." Coakley is now entering his sophomore year at Iowa State University.
Coakley works and plays at Makray Memorial in Barrington when he is home from school just to get the competitive juices flowing. He ended strong Wednesday with birdies on both of the par-5s on the back nine.
"A couple of my friends were playing today, and I felt like I should too," Coakley said. "I play too much golf not to play somewhat competitively."
Daeschler shot 1-under on the front and 2-under on the back, recording six birdies total. He never played in an MCJGA event before Wednesday.
"I wasn’t expecting it," said Daeschler, who birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to end the first round. "It just all came together for me today. I felt comfortable, relaxed and everything went well. Not all the putts fell, but a lot of them did, so I can’t complain."
Karna's 78 was his best round ever.
"I’ll be playing with better golfers tomorrow, so hopefully that will motivate me to go lower," Karna said.
Huntley's Lorelei Oomens tied for the third-lowest round of Day 1 with a 76 and has a three-shot lead over Prairie Ridge's Elizabeth Tucker (79), who posted her first-ever round in the 70s.
Oomens sank four birdies and caught at least one break Wednesday.
"I did get really lucky on one shot," Oomens said. "I hit a tree, it bounced back in play when it would have went way out of bounds."
Oomens has been playing golf for about two years and already is one of the stronger players in the county – earning Northwest Herald All-Area honors as a junior, along with Baker. Oomens used to play soccer but likes the individual aspect of golf more.
"I needed another sport and my dad recommended golf," Oomens said. "I like being able to play your own game and not worry about anyone else."
Three of the top five scores in the girls senior division after Day 1 belong to Huntley.
Huntley's Molly Baker and Nina Shaffer both recorded 83s and are tied for third. Oomens, Baker and Shaffer helped lead the Red Raiders to their first Fox Valley Conference championship in program history last year. Burlington Central's Maya Gusciora had an 84 and is in fifth after the first round.
Tucker, who will be a junior in the fall, had never broken 80 before Wednesday. The closest she got was an 82.
"Getting into the 70s feels amazing," Tucker said. "I really wanted to break it and I've been so close. It boosts my confidence a lot. I'm going to try and keep going lower and see where it takes me."
Brody Glauser, an incoming freshman at McHenry East, leads the boys junior division with an 83, followed by Prairie Ridge's Danny Saville (84) and Huntley's Nathan Elm (85).
Cary's Delaney Medlyn hit two birdies and leads the junior girls division with a 6-over 42 after nine holes. Hampshire's Lily Farnam (49) is second and Huntley's Aubrey Dingbaum (57) is third.