Saturday brought the end of the high school golf season, which meant for six area golfers, they got to end their respective years at the pinnacle of high school golf at the IHSA State Finals.
All six golfers participated in the Class 1A finals, three each in boys and girls. The boys golfed at Prairie View Golf Course in Bloomington, where Grant Park junior Ryan Dulin had the most fruitful area weekend, taking home a 26th place finish with a total of 161 strokes over the two-day tournament.
Dulin was tough on himself in his self-assessment, but also kept the perspective that he was fortunate enough just to advance to the final day of the golf season.
“It’s always great making it to state, it’s the big goal for me at the end of the season,” Dulin said. “To be able to play is an honor because there are hundreds of kids that could but didn’t make it.
“I didn’t play that well but it’s always a fun time in Bloomington.”
Watseka’s Lukas Ball shot an 83 on the first day, one shot off of the final cutline. He said although a couple bad shots on his 16th hole were what ultimately did him in, he still had a great experience overall.
“I was just six over (par) going into 16, made one bad decision on 16, missed a couple putts and missed the cut by one stroke,” Ball said. “Overall though, it was pretty cool and a great experience.
“I was able to accomplish my goal of making it to state and it was a great way to end my high school career.”
While Ball may have been a little down after missing the cut by a single stroke, his coach, Darin Hartman, had nothing but praise for his senior.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how he battled all day and the season he had for us,” Hartman said. “He should be very proud of his accomplishments because I know I sure am.”
Beecher’s Eric Stasko also made it to Bloomington. Stasko finished a handful of strokes away from the cut, as he shot an 88.
Neither Stasko nor coach David Sarafin could immediately be reached for comment.
On the girls side, a pair of golfers found themselves in the hunt on the final day at Red Tail Run Golf Club in Decatur.
Reed-Custer’s Amber Maddox, who spent most of the season golfing with her male counterparts, had the area’s strongest finish, as she took home 21st place with a combined score of 159.
Maddox’s coach, Steve Meyer, said he knew Maddox was set for a strong weekend when she fired off an impressive practice round.
“I knew when she shot a 75 for her practice round that we were going to be in for a good weekend,” Meyer said. “She did not disappoint with a 79 and 80 over two days.”
Meyer went on to say that Maddox put more than enough work in to get to where she ended up.
“I could not be prouder of the perseverance and ability that Amber displayed during the state tournament this year,” Meyer said. “She has been a great competitor and athlete the last 4 years and she will be missed on our team.”
Maddox wasn’t the only girl to see the final day. Beecher’s Emily Hayhurst ended her high school golf career with a grand total of 164 over two days, good enough for 31st place.
Hayhurst said she was happy to just make it to state after having to get through a gauntlet of stout competition in the St. Bede sectional.
“It’s a relief getting there I think because there’s a lot of good golfers that compete at sectionals and making the cut (at state) was a bonus on top of it,” Hayhurst said. “I could have played a little bit better but it was a good end to my senior season and my high school golf career.”
Peotone’s Karli Borsch also made it to state, where she fired a 94 on the first day, missing the cut for day two.