Scouting the Cook and Lake County boys golf season
As area golf teams get ready to hit the links for another high school season, Glenbrook North is aiming for a second straight Class 3A state championship following last season's stunning run.
The Spartans won the state title by three shots over New Trier, with Jason Gordon capturing the individual state championship by shooting a 137. With Gordon back in the fold, the Spartans have a senior dominated lineup of Gordon, Robbie O'Regan, Eli Myers and Troy Nason. The Spartans finished second in 2019.
"Our goal is to make it back to the state tournament and be competitive," Glenbrook North coach Justin Gerbich said.
After finishing in fifth place in Class 3A last season, Barrington is looking to climb the ladder to the top this fall. The Broncos have plenty of talent back, led by junior Walker Grelle and sophomore standouts Drew Schauenberg and William Lange. Schauenburg is coming off a dominating freshman season that helped lead the Broncos to state.
"Those three golfers are young but all of them had excellent seasons last year," Barrington coach Bryan Tucker said. "We will be relying heavily on their consistency this coming season. The rest of the team will be inexperienced. We're counting on some juniors to emerge this season to be competitive this season."
Palatine junior Pablo Castro, the Mid-Suburban Player of the Year in 2021, is one of the top juniors in the state. He joins forces with emerging sophomore Kasey May to raise the bar for the Pirates this season.
"I'm optimistic that Pablo can make the all-state team this year, and guessing he would tell you his goal is to win state before he graduates," Palatine coach Mark Johnson said. "Kasey took some big strides as a freshman, and we're looking forward to his improvement."
Conant junior star golfer Nicolas Smith, who placed fifth in Class 3A last season, is the headline returnee for the Cougars. Smith is healthy and ready to lead the Cougars following a fluke injury in the summer. Seniors Aashir Patel and Blake Smith are key players to watch.
"Our ultimate goal is to do well in the state playoffs and make it to state in October," Conant coach Scott Cieplik said. "With the leaders and talent we have on this roster, our goals could be in reach."
Buffalo Grove is another area team with high expectations, mainly due to a solid group of seniors and newcomers. Senior Tyler Imhor, juniors Connor Woodin and Nathan Barbakoff and freshman Cori Lee are part of BG coach Peter Duffer's rotation.
"I expect us to compete and improve weekly," Duffer said. "Our goal is to win the MSL East and play strong throughout the entire postseason."
Elk Grove coach Brian Bucciarelli has a nice group of returnees looking to top last season's seventh place conference finish. Seniors Nick Lamberg, Zak Rojahn, Peter Pantazis and Justin Novoselsky and juniors Charlie Carlson form an experienced lineup.
Schaumburg junior Gavin Hinkle is among the top golfers in the Mid-Suburban League. The Saxons will need Hinkle's experience to help lead a young and inexperience team, according to coach Chris Zickert.
Rolling Meadows has three sectional qualifiers back in Tyler Wengronowitz, Frank Lesner and Jack McCann.
"The team is returning nearly all the golfers from last season and they've put together a great summer," Rolling Meadows coach Joe Szabo said.
Libertyville coach Sean Matthews has a nice blend of experience and youth, highlighted by No. 1 golfer, Aleks Slesers. Wyatt Sorensen, Matthew Huennekens and Will Buchert all are entering their second year on the varsity.
"I think we will be very competitive this season," Matthews said. "We look forward to the season beginning and continuing where we left off last year with strong play from our golfers."
Mundelein coach Todd Parola expects his four returnees -- Matt Kisselburg, Brandon Hinkle, Jackson Koenigsknecht and Miles Begg -- to form the core of a strong team that can build on last season's sixth place finish at the Buffalo Grove sectional.
Experience is a big factor driving Grayslake Central coach Jim Mazzetta's optimism this season. The Rams, who finished in first place in the Northern Lake County Conference last season, bring back state qualifier Dominic Lucchesi.
"We have a talented group of seniors this year along with some strong underclassmen," Mazzetta said.
Grant is looking to make some waves, with seniors Kyle Allen, Aidan Schrank and Sean Schuster joining juniors Diego Delgado and Jack Martin. Grayslake North is one of the most experienced teams in the conference this season. Creighton Campbell, Zach Huffman and Trevor Deering lead a powerful lineup that includes Kevin Meyer, Vinny Marino, Jack Calhoun and Tyler Kregel.
At Lake Zurich, the Bears graduated five seniors, thus leaving five to seven positions open but look for Zach Lawler to be a "strong leader on the team," according to coach Terry Geoghegan.
Vernon Hills, which won the CSL North and a regional championship last season, is bringing back junior Kartik Vasudeva and senior Sam Gottlieb along with junior Owen Sones and Lundaa Hyanhirvaa.
"We have a few young players who will get a chance to compete for some open spots in our lineup," Vernon Hills coach Shawn Healey said. "Our depth will determine how well we compete in conference and in the state series this year."
St. Viator had a banner 2021 season that included a second-place finish in the East Suburban Catholic. Longtime coach Jack Halpin is aiming for a Class 2A state title thanks to the return of seniors Grayson Dossett and CJ Rascher, and juniors David Koziol, Ryder Schuch and Ryan Kalaway.
Maine East coach Matt Miller anticipates a solid season due to the return of talented sophomore Jiro Yamat and a strong group of seniors -- Param Vimawala, Tim Schaefer and Tom Schaefer.
"With the senior leadership plus a couple of talented underclassmen, we expect to have a strong season," Miller said.
At Maine West, seniors Charlie Parcell and Anthony Nabor form a nice blend of the present and future with a solid group of sophomores. Expectations are high with the return of the top eight scoring players from last season.
"The guys have been working hard this summer, so hopefully their attention to becoming better players allows them to continue to get better and have more success than last season," Maine West coach Michael Godlewski said.
Boys golf at a glance
Top players: Glenbrook North senior Jason Gordon, Barrington junior Walker Grelle, Palatine junior Pablo Castro, Conant junior Nicholas Smith
Key dates: Regionals Sept. 26-28; Sectionals: Oct 3-4
2021 sectional champions: Barrington, Glenbard West, New Trier, Lockport (3A); St. Ignatius, Breese Mater Dei, Macomb, Crystal Lake Central (2A); Beecher, IC Catholic Prep, Oblong, Sherrard (1A)
2021 state champions: Glenbrook North (3A), St. Ignatius (2A), Vandalia (1A)
2022 state tournament: Oct. 7-8 at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course (3A), Bloomington Weibring Golf Club, Normal (2A) and Prairie Vista Golf Course, Bloomington (1A)