Lyons Township junior Charlie Netzel gained valuable experience competing at last year’s Class 3A boys golf state meet, but he was the Lions’ lone qualifier.
“When I went down as an individual, it was different because you’re kind of down there by yourself,” Netzel said. “When the team goes, you stay down there together in the rooms and it’s a lot of fun.”
With the whole team advancing this season, Netzel and the Lions enjoyed more than plenty of fun. They achieved lots of history.
Netzel finished second as an individual and LT took second in the 12-team field at the two-day meet Friday and Saturday at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington.
Netzel’s total of 149 (77-72) on the par-72 course was a solid second, five strokes behind Lake Forest senior Joe Willis and two ahead of third-place Crystal Lake South senior Nick Robles.
Meanwhile, the Lions (621) finished a solid second behind Lake Forest (612) with Loyola (626) third. West Suburban Conference Silver Division rival Hinsdale Central (632) was fourth, followed by Carmel and New Trier (641 apiece) and Naperville North (643).
“Obviously you try to win, but we would have been happy being top five at the beginning of the year,” Netzel said. “When we were down there, we realized we could win. We came up a little short, but we’re happy and satisfied with what we did.
“I kind of went in with the mentality to win as an individual and win as a team. I figured if I did really well as an individual, that would only help our team. It’s not really surprising. It just kind of shows all of the hard work throughout the year paid off.”
LT junior Ryan Hudson tied for 19th at 157 (79-78), just two strokes from individual all-state honors for a top-10 finish. Sophomore Dan Hudson tied for 21st with a 158 (75-83), senior Kevin Carlson tied for 28th with a 160 (79-81), junior Jack Ferguson tied for 44th with a 164 (84-80) and senior Peter Swanson tied for 72nd with a 168 (85-83).
Netzel is LT’s fourth top-two state finisher overall and the first since Chris Bona was second in Class AA in 1981. LT’s only individual state champion is Bob Abrahams from 1944.
The Lions earned their highest state team finish since taking second in the spring of 1938, the first year that the IHSA added team competition to the state tournament, followed by a state team championship in 1939. LT's last two previous trophies were for third place in 1942 and 1944. The state tournament moved to the fall in 1974.
The Lions' sixth-place 2009 state finish (638) with Carlson among that lineup had been their highest since taking fifth in 1948.
“(Our players) responded really well. Deep down in their minds they knew we had a chance,” LT coach Brian Kopecky said.
“The goal was to try and be in the hunt after Friday and see what happens and take it one shot at a time. And Charlie had to play well. For any team to do well, the big guns have to play well. I told them going into it if we can shoot our average and one shot better, even though it’s a tougher course, and that’s not good enough, it’s not good enough. Our guys have been in a lot of tournaments and I think that paid off. They’re a little more used to the pressure, even though now it’s a team thing.”
The team element boosted Netzel, who was 19th as an individual in 2010. He entered Saturday tied for 15th among eight players but came through with the best individual score Saturday, one shot better than Willis and two better than Robles.
“My goal was to shoot a couple of shots under (par), maybe get in the top five. When I was done, I thought top five and when I got second, it was just awesome,” Netzel said.
“It was definitely the most fun (round). In golf terms, I’ve had better days. I had a really good round over the summer, but I was proud of the way I played. Down there as a team, you feel you have more to lose. I’m always happy when I’ve played well, especially because I played well the whole year so if I played bad, I’d let the team down. It made me feel better that I helped out the team a lot.”
Netzel had three birdies and two bogeys Saturday after one birdie and four bogeys Friday. In both rouunds, he birdied hole No. 1 and bogeyed No. 2, but then he got a birdie by sinking a 20-footer Saturday after shooting a bogey on that hole Friday. Even when the wind picked up around the fifth and sixth holes Saturday, he finished with a 1-under-par on the front nine.
“I didn’t play particularly well (Friday), but I hit the ball really well. None of my putts were going in,” Netzel said. “Finally on Saturday, I made a couple of long putts on the first three holes. It got me going. I knew the putts were going to start falling after the first day so I kind of knew I was due. It’s kind of funny in golf how it all evens out.”
The Lions remained steady as a team. They were in second (310) after Friday, seven shots behind Lake Forest (303) and slightly ahead of Naperville North (313), Loyola (314) and Carmel (316). Dan Hudson’s 75 with two birdies was tied for fourth among nine players.
Netzel, Ryan Hudson and Carlson had counting team scores both days and Ferguson’s 80 counted Saturday.
Juniors Chris Sekula and Keegan Murphy made the trip as team alternates. Junior team member Nick Florek was among those who came Saturday as spectators.
“That was one of our assets that the team had. We just didn’t have four guys score. All year long, it was five, six, seven,” Kopecky said.
The teamwork went beyond that. LT parents stocked coolers with drinks and snacks for the players at the No. 10 and 15 holes, continuing a practice they started during the season for the Lions and their opponents for home dual meets.
“Our parents were awesome, starting with the moms with the little snack shop,” Kopecky said. “Even parents of kids who weren’t playing came down Saturday and I thought that was pretty classy.”
The frustrations of the 2010 season seemed far away. With two returnees from the 2009 state lineup and a several strong regular-season performances, they Lions appeared in the hunt for another trip to Bloomington. The season ended early at regionals when they finished fourth, one place from advancing.
With five underclassmen from that lineup, the 2011 Lions won their first overall Silver title since 2005 and the Wheaton Warrenville South Regional before taking third at the Bartlett Sectional behind Naperville North and Hinsdale Central for the last state-qualifying spot.
“No one played good on the same day. That was the problem last year,” Netzel said. “This year, we were a lot more confident and we knew we could do it if we just go out and play. It was very satisfying to go down and not only to play well but to get second. I think we were a little more confident because we had such a good season the whole year.”
LT girls golf
The Lyons Township girls golf team finished seventh in their second consecutive trip to the Class AA state meet Friday and Saturday at High Point Golf Club in Decatur.
The Lions’ two-day 690 (353-337) was five strokes behind sixth-place Marian Catholic and one stroke ahead of eighth-place Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin. Prospect (643), New Trier (650) and Highland Park (661) took the top three places with Hinsdale Central (663) fourth.
LT sophomore Ciara Rattana tied for 27th with a 164 (87-77), six strokes from all-state honors for a top-10 finish. Senior Kate Ellis tied for 36th with a 167 (85-82), and junior Rachael Johnson (91-89) and sophomore Jameson Mitchelll (90-90) tied for 73rd with 180s. Playing one round each were junior Jamie Blechschmidt (93) and senior Emma Pasquinelli (96) Friday and sophomores Katie Dougherty (89) and Sarah Donohoe (96) Saturday with Dougherty counting toward the team total.
The Lions improved upon last year’s 10th-place state finish (703) when Ellis, Rattana, Johnson, Blechschmidt and Pasquinelli played both rounds. Ellis also competed at state in 2009 as an individual qualifier.
LT girls tennis
Lyons Township sophomore Alex Chatt and senior Katie Miller qualified for the girls tennis state tournament in singles with top-four finishes at the Hinsdale Central Sectional Friday and Saturday.
The second-seeded Chatt (28-1) won the sectional title 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 over top-seeded Hinsdale Central sophomore Alex Solovyev. The victory avenged Chatt’s only loss of the season, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 to Solovyev in the No. 1 singles final of the West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet Oct. 8.
Miller (7-6) finished fourth at sectionals after losing to Hinsdale Central junior Tiffany Chen 6-0, 6-0. With a state berth on the line, Miller won her quarterfinal match 6-2, 7-5 over Hinsdale South senior Lindy Wing, a 2010 state singles qualifier.
The double-elimination state tournament begins Thursday with Prospect High School serving as tournament central.
This is Chatt’s second state berth, but she sat out the 2010 tournament because of a hip injury that initially forced her to retire during last year’s sectional semifinal against Solovyev.
Last year, Miller reached the sectional quarterfinals in doubles with current sophomore Samantha Sherman, losing in straight sets. Miller reached the final 16 in singles at the 2009 sectional.
LT’s doubles teams of junior Maeve Plunkett and Maggie Schwartz (12-8) and Sherman and freshman Megan Hickey (3-3) both lost in Friday’s quarterfinals in straight sets to outstanding opponents.
Sherman and Hickey lost 6-0, 6-1 to Nazareth junior Alyssa Straub and sophomore Lexie Petrovic, fifth in state last year. Plunkett and Schwartz lost 6-0, 6-0 to Hinsdale South senior Kim Warpecha and junior Emma Adcock, a top-12 state finisher in 2010.
Schwartz reached the sectional quarterfinals in singles last year.
The Lions (24 points) finished second as a team to state title contender Hinsdale Central (32 points).