HUNTLEY – Crystal Lake South's John Lishchynsky stepped up for about an 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th green at Whisper Creek as a large and noisy crowd collected to watch the last groups Monday at the Class 2A Burlington Central Sectional.
"I was never making that in front of all those people," Lishchynsky said. "I hammered it, too."
That putt did not fall for the Gators senior Monday, but just about everything else did. Lishchynsky tied his career-best round with a 3-under-par 69, winning medalist honors and leading South to its first sectional championship since 1998.
The Gators, who made their first state appearance in 16 years last season, will make a return trip to the Class 2A state tournament beginning Friday at Illinois State University's Weibring Golf Club in Normal. South won the sectional title with a 308, beating Boylan (310) by two shots. Carmel shot 313 to take the third and final qualifying spot.
South completed a perfect Fox Valley Conference season, winning every conference dual and the FVC Tournament, added a regional title last week and won the sectional title Monday.
"I don't think that's been done in 40 years," South coach Curt Wadlington said. "It's a lot of fun. That's a lot of history, so it's kind of neat to do that. I think they are starting to believe that they can do big things if they just work together."
Junior Will Stewart took fourth with a 74 for the Gators, and juniors Tanner Coakley (81) and Ricky Falbo (84) rounded out the scoring.
Lishchynsky's top round included five birdies. He won last week's regional with a 71 and said he's never felt this good.
"I was making every putt I stared at, even the ones outside of 20 feet," Lishchynsky said. "All of my drives and irons were hitting the greens and fairways today. It was perfect."
Coakley has shuffled between varsity and JV but has scored in the top four for the Gators at conference, regionals and sectionals.
"It's crazy," Coakley said. "Last season, I was just watching my brother (Griffin) play these. Now I'm playing and it's really cool. It feels great. Early in the season, I was not playing well. I figured some stuff out, and now I'm playing well."
So what changed?
"I figured out how to hit my driver and keep it on the course," Coakley joked. "That helps."
Prairie Ridge's Eddie Winkelmann will make his first trip to state after shooting 77, which tied for fifth. The junior was actually 1 over going into the last hole but took a 9 on the 18th after splashing into water and three-putting.
"My first 17 holes were perfect," Winkelmann said. "It's huge, because I was nervous going into today. Now I'm just happy I'm going to state. It's a lot of pressure off my back for next year. It's a fun environment."
Prairie Ridge's Grant Klepitsch (80) entered a three-golfer playoff for the final two qualifying spots and appeared to be heading to state for the second straight year. However, after winning the final playoff spot, Burlington Central officials discovered there actually was only one qualifying spot left.
The last spot for state went to St. Viator's Jack Lynch, who won the first playoff hole with a birdie, knocking out Klepitsch and Vernon Hills' Dylan Josephson. It was not until Klepitsch won the second playoff hole that officials caught the mistake.
The IHSA will determine by Tuesday whether Klepitsch still can go to state, Burlington officials said.
STAR OF THE MEET
John Lishchynsky, Crystal Lake South, sr.
Lishchynsky fired a 3-under-par 69 to win medalist honors and lead the Gators to their first sectional title since 1998.
2: South is making its second straight state appearance.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Prairie Ridge junior Eddie Winkelmann shot a 77 to earn his first trip to state.
IHSA Class 2A Burlington Central Sectional
at Whisper Creek, par 72
Teams scores (top 3 advance to state): 1. Crystal Lake South 308, 2. Boylan 310, 3. Carmel 313, 4. Kaneland 320, T5. Vernon Hills, Marmion, Aurora Central Catholic 330, 8. Prairie Ridge 331, 9. St. Viator 335, 10. Rock Falls 354, T11. Ottawa, LaSalle 356
Medalist: John Lishchynsky (CLS) 69
Local team results
Crystal Lake South (308): Lishchynsky 69, Stewart 74, Coakley 81, Falbo 84
Prairie Ridge (331): Winkelmann 77, Klepitsch 80, Hamilton 87, Lazar 87
Local individual results: 1. Lishchynsky (CLS) 69, 4. Stewart (CLS) 74, T5. Winkelmann (PR) 77, T18. Klepitsch (PR) 80, T22. Coakley (CLS) 81, T36. Falbo (CLS) 84, T53. Roberts (CLS), Hamilton (PR), Lazar (PR) 87, T69. Arza (Marian Central), L’Esperance (Richmond-Burton) 91, T76. Cannon (Marengo) 92, T82. Wiggs (CLS) 93, T87. Pivnicka (Marian Central) 94, T95. Yegge (Marian Central) 96, T100. Saville (PR), Nelson (Marengo) 97, 104. Gilmore (Marian Central) 98, T107. Wagner (PR) 103