White knuckles, furrowed brows, and hushed whispers burdened the air in the tent; one could grasp the palpable tension in their palm. It was Tuesday, Oct. 8, and the boys’ varsity golf regionals were being held at Mt. Prospect Golf Course.With all eyes trained on the score sheets, constantly calculating the possible strokes necessary to advance on. After a grueling hour of waiting, the Knights exhaled an undeniable sigh of relief as red expo marker spelled out their fate, a very clear “Highland Park – “308.”
With a score of 304 strokes, the Knights clinched the third and final qualifying spot for sectionals. Senior Josh Johnson, a sectional medalist who tied for fourth with two other golfers, lead the Knights with a score of 73 strokes on the 18 hole course. Senior Reid Dahlstrom also helped seal the Knights’ advancement, with an eagle on 17 and a birdie on 18, adding up to a score of 74 strokes. Both junior Grant Gavin and senior Ralph Tenuta scored for the Knights as well with a 78 and 79 respectively.
Along with Dahlstrom, Johnson eagled 15 and birdied 17, which helped to bring the Knights’ score down, as well as place third. Both knew that as seniors, this would be their last meet at Mt.Prospect Golf Course, and could have been their final meet as a Knight.
“[I] knew this was my last time, and [I] knew we needed to play well.” Johnson said.
This not only motivated them to play for themselves, but for the rest of the team as well.
“ really wanted to play as well as I could for my team, [I was] 5 over going into [hole] 17 and wanted to come back from that.” Dahlstrom said.
Additionally coach Tom Martindale does not simply attribute the Knights’ win to their yearn to succeed, but to the team’s constructive comradery as well.
“We used two [ideas] today; stay hungry, and connect to each other,” Martindale said. “We were hungry to try to survive and advance, but staying connected is that emotional connection… not, ‘I’m playing just for myself, but I want to see you do well too.’”
Additionally, Martindale credits the team’s overall success this season to the captains and seniors leading the team. He has seen the bond between team members has grown extremely since the beginning of the season.
He also hopes that the “down to the wire” regionals will help strengthen the boys’ bond going to sectionals at Blackstone, which will be one of the most difficult courses this year for the Knights.
“This kind of emotion stays with you, and will probably even get them tighter and closer together.” Martindale said about sectionals on Monday.
The Knights have grown from just a group of boys to a family of brothers. They knew that things would never stay the same after they would step onto the course Tuesday morning.
“[This is] the last boys’ golf meet to be ever played on the course because they will be changing it, so we’re making history today,” Johnson said. “ I fought as hard as I could, and played as hard as I could for my team today.”