A junior college men’s golf season ago, Sean Kennedy took over the IVCC program in hopes of leading the team to grand success.
There were some highlight moments the Eagles will remember but there were also some signs of inexperience.
“My players had to put up with a rookie coach last year who didn’t know where some of the venues were and we didn’t have enough experience,” Kennedy said. “I got the job late and our team roster wasn’t set. It was just a really good learning experience.
“I appreciate the sophomores who played for me last year, but we only return one starting player. We’re starting new again this year, although we’re excited. We’ve upgraded our schedule and IVCC athletic director Cory Tomasson has helped us upgrade our equipment. We’re looking forward to an improved team and an improved experience for my players this year.”
The one full-year experienced sophomore on the Eagles’ roster this season is Princeton graduate Ian Legner.
Last year Legner was the Eagles’ No. 3 golfer and Kennedy hopes he can take the next step and lead the team.
St. Bede alumnus Devin Cook joined IVCC in January and helped the team improve its spring dual record and have success in Arrowhead Conference tournaments in the spring.
Now, Legner and Cook will team up for their first fall together as Eagles.
“We started on Aug. 9 and we’ve done three, 18 hole qualifying rounds already,” Kennedy said. “I’m pretty familiar with my team and what we can hope for. We’ll be improved. We didn’t have a very successful fall last year, but we did have a good spring as we were 6-6 in match play and we won a conference tournament for the first time in quite a few years.
“We’re looking to build on that. We want to finish our year strong at the national tournament. We want to qualify for nationals every year whether it’s as an individual or a team.”
RECRUITING THE ILLINOIS VALLEY
Kennedy is making it an initiative to gather all of the top high school golfers and put them in IVCC polo shirts.
“It’s really important for me to recruit golfers from the Illinois Valley,” Kennedy said. “We don’t offer terrific housing, so it’s important we sign the talented golfers from the area. We’re really fortunate in the area with the strong crop of young golfers in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 classes.
“It’s my job to get them to see the enthusiasm happening at IVCC to make them want to be part of it.”
This season, Legner and Cook will be joined by Spencer Marquez, who graduated from Bureau Valley in 2018 and played for Saint Xavier University before transferring to IVCC, Fieldcrest graduate Clayton Wells, Streator alumnus Cole Holloway and Midland’s AJ Foster.
Foster was a regional medalist and a state qualifier as a Midland senior.
IVCC will play many rounds of golf at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club in La Salle and Senica’s Deer Park Golf Club in Oglesby.
But this year, the Eagles are doing some traveling as well.
“We will play events in four different states this fall in some of the best venues you can find,” Kennedy said. “We have a trip going to Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa. We are going to Hawks Landing Golf Club in Verona, Wis. and we close our fall season with a big invitational Purdue University Northwest hosts at White Hawk Country Club Golf Course in Crown Point, Ind.”