JOLIET – Just one week after winning its first SouthWest Suburban Conference Red Division title, Lincoln-Way West’s boys golf team made history once again, but this time it was even more impressive.
Competing in Tuesday’s tough Class 3A Joliet Central Regional at Inwood Golf Course, the Warriors posted a
302 to defeat runner-up Lockport by four strokes as they claimed their first regional championship in program history.
It was just one more going away present for veteran coach Donna Thompson, who will step down after serving as the Warriors’ only coach in the sport since the school opened.
“These guys have worked hard all winter long, and they were in tournaments all summer,” Thompson said. “To see them all come together as a team and to keep bringing these scores, I knew that we were going to do something, and whatever they’ve earned they’ve deserved. We wanted to be one of the top three teams coming in here since we know that going to sectionals is more fun as a team, and the experience is fantastic, so I couldn’t ask for anything more. And hopefully they’ll continue to play good golf.”
Homewood-Flossmoor, boosted by a 71 from medalist Perry Hoag, fired a
307 to claim the third and final qualifying spot for next Monday’s Edwardsville Sectional, which will be at Edwardsville’s Sunset Hills Country Club. Lincoln-Way Central took fourth with a 309, but had half of the 10 individual qualifiers.
The Warriors got rounds of 74 from brothers Collin and Zack Phelps, a
75 from Dylan Adair and they added a 79 from Ethan Healy. Jason Lange (83) and Nick Hamilton (86) were the other two competitors for West.
“We really didn’t have an idea of whether we could do this or not,” Collin Phelps said. “It’s just a big milestone for our team and a huge confidence booster for the team going to sectionals by showing that we can actually shoot and maybe we have a chance for state. In the beginning of the year we were definitely not as good, but we were putting together by the end of the year to make it through. I like the positivity that we have and how we’re all comfortable with each other. We have a lot of chemistry together.”
This also was a big moment for the Warriors’ only two seniors, Collin Phelps and Adair, who both were sophomores in 2016 when the program made its only other Class 3A sectional trip after edging Joliet Township, 326-327.
“We always had one or two good scores, but it’s been kind of hard for all of us to put up scores together,” Adair said. “So this is amazing. We’ve been looked at as a team that only individuals would get out. But our team has a lot of chemistry, and everyone gets along really well, and we’re all good friends outside of golf as well. With this being coach’s last year, she’s been awesome and everything that we’ve needed in a coach.”
Lockport was paced by Ben Sluzas (74), John Weis (76), Nolan Weis (78), Brody McCarthy (78), Eric Gasienica (78) and VJ Greci (79). Porters coach Matt Eber was just happy that his team is moving on.
“Winning a regional title would have been great, but I’m so happy for Donna,” Eber said. “What a great thing for her to get that regional in her final year, and her kids played awesome, and they’re a really good team. This was a loaded regional, so to get out of here, you’re happy with that. The plaque is great, but getting out is the goal every year. I couldn’t be more proud of the way our team played.”
The Knights were led by Sean Curran (73), Brian Sterling (77), Juney Bai (79), TJ Edmier (80) and Nick Tingley (80), who all advanced.
Leading area competitors was Lincoln-Way East’s Matt Kelley, who shot a 72 to finish second. Joliet Township’s Brandyn Collins fired a 73 to tie for third with Curran and Henry.
Providence Catholic placed fifth with a 317. Joey Utz and Davis Billows both shot 77, while Michael Blake had an 81 and won a playoff involving JT’s Matthew Shroba and East’s Scott Schipiour.