No matter what he heard around him, St. Rita senior Kevin Healy just tried to stay focused on his round.
With coaches, family and friends walking the course and following the Class 2A St. Rita golf regional’s live scoring via their smartphones, Healy just kept ignoring reports of where he and his teammates were in the team standings.
Shooting an 81 each, Healy and Mike Walsh tied for the team lead as St. Rita won its own regional, beating rival Br. Rice 326-332 on Oct. 3 at Glenwoodie Golf Club in Glenwood. It was the golf program’s first regional title.
“People were talking about the live scoring. I try and stay away from it,” Healy said with a smile. “I really don’t want to know what’s going on out there. It changes my game plan a little bit. It distracts me.”
At the regional, the top three teams advance to the sectional along with the top 10 individuals from non-qualifying teams. St. Rita (326), Br. Rice (332) and Latin (356) advanced as teams from the 10-team meet.
Br. Rice junior John Stillman (77) won the individual regional title, the only golfer to break 80.
Senior Bryan Schied (St. John Fisher) and junior Michael Henze shot 82 apiece for the Mustangs.
In winning the program’s first regional, some redemption was earned after a disappointing showing in 2016, when the team finished third at the Class 2A Chicago Christian regional.
“It was a tough loss,” Healy said. “This is pretty special, especially because it’s my senior year. I wanted to make this year special as a team. This is pretty cool.”
Healy credited a strong game off the tee early in his round before tailing off on the back nine. Still, he found a way to close strong, especially with the team standings so close.
“My front nine was a lot better than the back,” said Healy, a St. John Fisher graduate. “I struggled coming down the stretch. My par putt on 17 was a big putt for me and the team. It was straight up the hill; that got me going for the last hole.”
Playing in conditions that featured intermittent rain, up and down temperatures and strong winds, Walsh and his teammates powered through the weird weather.
“The course was playing pretty hard today,” Walsh said. “My putter saved me quite a bit. I had a couple birdies on the back nine that really saved me. On the front nine, I missed a couple five-footers that will eat at me. I’m happy with how I finished in the conditions. I’m ready to go for next week.”
Playing at the Class 2A Lemont Sectional on Oct. 9 at Broken Arrow Golf Club in Lockport, Healy (77) and junior Brendan Patton (79) advanced as individuals to the state meet. The Class 2A state meet will be held Oct. 13-14 at Weibring Golf Club in Normal.
Br. Rice sophomore Sean Hogan advanced individually.
“Winning the regional definitely gave us confidence,” Walsh said. “I’m glad we all played consistent as we did. Last year was a little bit tougher, but I’m glad it came together today. Hopefully we can come in at Broken Arrow and play our golf.”
In winning the individual title, Stillman made the most of his playoff debut.
“My sophomore year, I didn’t get called up for the postseason. This was my first [Illinois High School Association] meet,” Stillman said. “It was a good start. I felt like I could win it from the start. If I played my game, I could come out victorious.”
Shaking off a shanked drive on the opening hole, Stillman settled in quickly.
“I knew it was going to be tough conditions out there,” Stillman said. “I had to try and put up my best score. After the first hole, I just hit the reset button. I rebounded, had a birdie at 10, a par at 17 and a birdie at 18.”
Also scoring for the Crusaders were senior Mike Furlong (84) and junior Sean Hogan (85). Senior Jack Donovan and freshman Ben Zarlengo tied at 86.
Advancing individually were De La Salle’s Ian Chan (82); Evergreen Park’s Michael Schulte (85), Marty Bennett (89) and David Schulte (92); St. Laurence’s Matt Kozubowski (85); and Mt. Carmel’s Hayden Shimala (88), Abdel Raoul (88), T.J. Bonnett (92) and Jack Dennehy (92).
In the team standings, Evergreen Park (359) finished fourth ahead of Mt. Carmel (5th, 360), De La Salle (6th, 372) and St. Laurence (7th, 375).