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I-8 Boys Golf Meet: Cooper leads Ottawa to third; L-P finishes fifth

Kaneland's Josh Pehl medalist with a 73, one ahead of Cooper

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], La Salle-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.

If you watched Jonathan Cooper’s round (98) as a freshman at Bliss Creek a year ago, you never would’ve guessed the Ottawa sophomore would be tied for second place today.

What a difference a year can make.

“I remembered the score, and I remembered the holes, and I knew I could shoot a good score,” Cooper said. “It was a really bad round last year, so I was pretty happy today.

"I made a five-foot putt on the fourth hole that was sliding, and that gave me confidence for the rest of the round.”

Drake Kaufman tied for eighth with a 78, Drake Stoudt had a 79, and Nick Angus shot an 85 for the Pirates, who had a season-best 18-hole round and also had Caden Ericzon [86] and Michael Bruner [87] just miss the scoring cut.

“We showed up today and played really well, and any time you can get three of your top scores in the 70s, it’s good to see,” Ottawa coach Keith Budzowski said. “They went out and saw they could shoot this low, so their confidence should be absolutely high going into the regional next Tuesday.”

For La Salle-Peru, Drake Hawthorne's 84 was the Cavaliers' best, followed by 89s from both Carter Fenza and Coleman Rundle. Connor Noramczyk and/or Caden Valenzuela rounded out the L-P scorecard with a 93.

At 1-under midway through, medalist Josh 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.”

Morris received strong performances from Matt Lawton [75], Nolan Washburn [77] and Eric Peterson [78] to place second as a team.

“I played pretty well with no birdies, so I was limiting the bogeys,” Lawton said. “That was pretty important for me. I didn’t have to take out the driver too often, which I think helped me.”

Plano’s Mason Accidentale considers golf more of a hobby and his third sport, so he was fine with his team-best 87.

“I didn’t play that well last year (98),” Accidentale said. “I shot a little worse today than usual but better than last year. It was a little wet outside, and the greens were spinning some.”

Sandwich was paced by Jacob Heilemeier’s 90, with Aidan Sullivan marking a 93.

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