Improvement drove Matt Yonkovich.
The Kaneland senior entered the 2013 prep golf season with a bounty of accolades. Just when it seemed like Yonkovich had reached his apex, as if there was no way he could push the ceiling any higher to get better, he did just that this fall on the state's grandest stage.
At the Class 2A state meet, benign opening round conditions deteriorated on Day 2. The winds gusted. Greens dried out. And treacherous scoring conditions yielded a plethora of marks in the bogey, double bogey and dreaded "other" scoring columns.
Yet, it was Yonkovich who further proved his ability to top expectations. Yonkovich fired off a 1-over-par-72, which tied for the second-best score on the day and resulted in a fifth-place finish, leading him to be named the 2013 Daily Chronicle boys Golfer of the Year.
"I really wanted to post a good score at state, I wanted a spot in the top 10," said Yonkovich who is still undecided on where he will play college golf next year. "I wanted to go low and despite the conditions, just went out and pulled off shots. They were the same hard conditions for everyone. I just went out there and hit the ball. There was no use in complaining about the weather, that wasn't going to change anything."
It was fitting Yonkovich didn't let the weather on the second day at state alter his approach. Reliability was a hallmark of his three-year varsity career.
"It was all about consistency with Matt," Kaneland coach Mark Meyer said. "We used his score in 44 consecutive competitions. Since midway through his sophomore year, we have counted on his score."
There was no secret to his steady scoring and role as the Knight's anchor at No. 1 the last two years: practice. In the summer it was participation in as many Illinois Junior Golf Association and Mid-American Junior Golf Tour events as possible.
The heightened level of competition at the exclusive events was cut throat. Against the best players in the state and region, low scores were a must to be competitive.
"Improvement all depends on how much you want to practice," Yonkovich said. "Playing in the summer really got me in the mode for the high school season. I played a lot of in-season practice rounds and spent a lot of time at the range."
Time that earned Yonkovich his second straight Player of the Year honors.
Previous Boys Golfer Player of the Year
2012: Matt Yonkovich, Kaneland
2011: Jon Nugent, Sycamore
2010: Alex Bremner, Indian Creek
2009: Andrew Morreale, DeKalb
2008: Trace Royer, DeKalb
2013 Daily Chronicle All-Area Boys Golf Team
Matt Yonkovich, sr., Kaneland
The 2012 and 2013 Daily Chronicle Boys Golfer of the Year anchored the Knights’ lineup for two seasons. His fifth-place finish at the Class 2A state meet capped an impressive prep career.
Brody Kuhar, sr., Kaneland
Golf is a part of everyday life for Kuhar.
“Brody grew up on a golf course,” Kaneland coach Mark Meyer said. “Golf encompasses his personality. He’s a grinder and one of the hardest workers I’ve coached.”
Tommy Lucca, so.,Genoa-Kingston
Acclimation to the big stage of the state tournament was supposed to be Lucca’s focus. Yet, the Class 2A state qualifier continued a hot streak that started in regionals with an opening round 76 and a 14th-place tie after Day 1. He finished his first state tournament in 36th place at 19-over par and has two years to top his best prep performance.
Jacob Cook, jr., DeKalb
An anchor for the Barbs, Cook was the steadiest scorer and a leader of a studious young team that immersed itself in shot preparation.
The Barbs posted a second-place finish in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Tournament.
Nick Adamczyk, so., Genoa-Kingston
Stephen Cannell, sr., Kaneland
Austin Freeman, fr., DeKalb
Payton Gatz, so., Indian Creek
Connor Hoyle, so., DeKalb
Ben Melms, so., DeKalb
– James Nokes, email@example.com