SUGAR GROVE – Mom mentioned something about them having homework to do, but Kaneland brothers Josh and Lucas Pehl were focused on something else – a chipping competition with teammate Hagan Rank.
Apparently, having just won Monday’s Interstate Eight Conference boys golf title at Bliss Creek in Sugar Grove wasn’t enough for the three Kaneland Knights.
“I always like to do competitions against my friends, like this chipping thing right now,” Rank said. “Whenever I play with my friends too, I always try to beat them and they try to beat me and I think that pushes us to new levels.”
Kaneland finished 13 strokes in front of runner-up Morris, 298 to 311. Ottawa was third with a 316 and followed by Sycamore (352), LaSalle-Peru (355), Plano (362), Rochelle (378) and Sandwich (396).
Josh Pehl, a junior, was medalist with a 73 while Lucas Pehl and Rank tied Ottawa’s Jonathan Cooper for second with 74s.
Sycamore’s Evan Borowicz led the Spartans with an 86.
At 1-under midway through, Joshua Pehl battled a few rough holes and finished strong.
“Near the end I had a birdie and I don’t want to say I clutched up, but I clutched up,” he said. “I was errant with the drive, but my ball striking saved me today. I hit a lot of greens and made a couple putts.”
Playing in his final conference meet, Lucas Pehl didn’t match the 69 he fired as last year’s medalist, but still played really well.
“It got a little dicey when the rain started, but I just grinded it out,” he said. “I knew we needed my score and I wanted to win again like I did last year, but it just didn’t happen today. I played pretty well. My short game was pretty good, my irons weren’t great, but everything else was good.”
That probably boded well for the post-round chipping battles.
“People are heading home, going to bed and resting up and we’re going to stay out here for another 30 minutes to an hour,” Lucas Pehl said. “We just want to get better and it’s just fun. When you find good competition and friends that love to play like this it makes golf 10 times better than it already is.”
Sycamore was hoping for a much better day, but collectively the Spartans struggled pretty much from top to bottom.
Sophomore Evan Borowicz and Nick Zurko led the Spartans with an 86and 87 respectively, while No. 1, senior Sam Faulhaber, carded an 88.
“Sam has been our staple and is usually around even par for our nine-hole (meets) so that’s a 17-18 stroke difference today,” Sycamore coach Dan Wheeler said. “We came in and our only conference loss was to Kaneland, but we just played really poorly. Everybody played a little worse than normal and our stud played his worst round in two years. It happens.”
The Spartans are young and talented with four sophomores in their lineup. They will look to regroup next week at regionals when they’ll see Kanelandagain at Hughes Creek in Elburn.
“Things like this are going to happen when you start younger players and there’s more pressure on you,” Wheeler said. “It really shows itself when they’re 15 and 16 versus 17 and 18 so it wasn’t totally unexpected.”