KANKAKEE — Thirty-one young golfers converged at Kankakee Country Club on Wednesday for the 38th annual Jim Marek Junior County Amateur Golf Tournament. Five of those youngsters out-shot the competition in their age group and went home with a championship plaque.
Aiden Ireland emerged victorious in a one-on-one duel with Blake Brown in the Boys 10-12 age group. Ireland shot a 62 over the course of nine holes to edge past Brown's round of 68.
In the Girls 14 & Under group, Noelle Schroeder finished nine holes in 59 shots to earn first place. She finished three strokes ahead of Adelynn Sharp's round of 62, while McKenzie Ireland shot a 68 to take third place.
A strong outing from Charlie Van Etten was enough to take home the title in the largest field of the day — the 12-person strong Boys 13-15 age group. He finished a full 10 strokes ahead of his next closest competitor and well enough that he would have finished third in the 16-18 group.
Van Etten wrapped up his 18 holes in 90 strokes, Ivan Munoz took second with a round of 100 and James Collins' 106 was good enough for third. The trio was trailed by Jacob Bayston (107), Jacob Walter (110), Jack Keigher (112), Kyler Meents, Collin Tilstra (121), Evan Izquierdo (128), Timmy Van Etten (134), Kamden Kimmel (138) and Jayson Singleton (146).
The most commanding performance of the day, however, came courtesy of Carly Schiene. The Mokena native returned with a bang to the tournament for the first time in a few years.
Schiene's round of 83 earned her first-place honors in the Girls 15-18 group with a full 16 shots to spare. Natalie Schroeder, who was the division's winner a year ago, took second with a round of 99. Kelly Deterding took third with a 112 and McKinley Tilstra rounded out the group with a 129.
"I played OK today. I was struggling with my irons a bit, but I kind of just stuck through it and was able to finish strong," Schiene said. "I think my drives today was probably the secret. I was hitting a lot of fairways, which is good out here because it gets pretty tight and when you're in the trees it can go pretty bad.
"Getting a win is always good. The competition may not have been as strong as it was in some of my high school matches, but it's still always a nice confidence booster when you can get a win."
The fifth and final champion in 2019 was Ryan Dulin of Grant Park. He delivered the best round of the afternoon en route to the Boys 16-18 plaque.
"I had a few hiccups here and there, but pretty much, today went pretty good," he said. "This is the one local tournament I play in and it feels good to win. I like local events because it feels good to win and do (well) in Kankakee County."
Behind Dulin's MVP-worthy 78 was a two-way tie for second place between Ryan Tilstra and Lukas Ball, both of whom finished five strokes off the lead at 83.
Isaac Fabbro also came in under 90 with a round of 86, while the rest of the field shook out thusly: Anthony Dinelli (94), Jordan Lamatsch (96), Brendan Bunte (97), Jack McMillan (107), Kade Kimmel (109), David Caddigan (113).