Back to Back Regional Champs Eye State Title

Trevor Fox, Staff Reporter

Golf is a game that lasts a lifetime. Young and old will play it on any given day, but this year it is the MHS team that is catching public attention.
“Our goal is to win conference, win regionals again, and we’ve been down to sectionals twice, the last two years, and we just haven’t come through, but we’re hoping to get the team down to state,” said Junior Ryan Magee. “This would be the first time, and this is probably our best chance because judging by successes…we’re doing very well in the state right now compared to other schools.”
Magee is referring to the recent invitational titles won by the Mustangs. The Warren Invite at Bittersweet Golf Club was on Saturday, Aug. 29. At Bittersweet, the Mustangs were led by Magee’s 73.
In a typical golf event, the team will add up the scores of its top four individual players to create the total team score. At Bittersweet, Magee’s 73 was joined by Junior Tyler White’s 75, Senior Nick Chuma’s 76 and Junior Brett Parola’s 77 to total 301.
Loyola Academy also scored a 301, and so the two teams broke the tie by taking a fifth player’s score. The Mustangs’ fifth score was from Senior Mikey Nieckula who shot an 80 as opposed to the 82 shot by the fifth Loyola Academy player.
“Warren was a huge win for us. There were the top one and two teams in the state there from last year, and we somehow pulled a win off. I guess we all played good in the same day, and it worked out,” said White.
Chuma said that this invite was “the turning point of the season because we realized we could play really well, and we could beat just about anybody.”
In addition to the Warren Invite, the Mustangs also won the Zion-Benton Invite at Shepherd’s Crook Golf Course on Sept. 12 with a team score of 322.
In second place was St. Viator with a 325 followed by New Trier with 326, Vernon Hills with a 327, and Fremd with a 329.
“We ended up winning that one, but we didn’t play as well as we’d like to. The course is playing really hard, but a win’s a win,” said Chuma.
Chuma said that while many courses are difficult due to tight fairways, he personally found Shepherd’s Crook to be a test because of its length. The two long holes that the course is known for are 14 and 18. These par fives, titled the “Brute” and the “Devil’s Ditch,” require hard hitting, supreme striking and perfect placement.
What helped the Mustangs fight through these difficult matches last year were the team’s three seniors. John Lentz, Jeff Lee and Jason White, the older brother of Tyler White, all graduated after the 2014-2015 season, and without them, the team has a different dynamic.
“It’s tough losing them,” said Magee. “They were really close to us and helped us a lot. They were good mentors for us, and they had experience, but they helped us a lot, and I think it’s going to carry over for us to help the younger players on our team.
Lentz and Lee helped the Mustangs to win the Regional Championship two years in a row. At last year’s championship, Lentz shot a 79 and Lee shot a 78. These two scores combined with Magee and Chuma’s 77s for a team total of 311.
While these seniors led on the course, they also led on non-tournament days as well. The younger players were grateful for the environment implemented by last year’s graduates, as they identified their need for a little fun to go with their daily dose of hard work.
Chuma said, “Golf is more of a mental game than anything else, and if you’re not in the right mindset, you’re not going to win, and you’re not going to play as well.”
Jason White was a key part of providing this atmosphere last season, as he won the team’s sportsmanship award. He added comedic character as well as a positive role model for the younger players.
Filling in those shoes this year is Magee.
“We like to laugh and joke around with [Magee] a lot,” Tyler White said.
But, while the Mustangs like to have fun, they mean business. The team looks to make the best postseason run in school history this fall. The 2013 and 2014 regional titles are the only two in school history, and now the Mustangs look to do even more by winning a sectional title and potentially a team state title.
“Right now we’re going in a really positive direction, and this is probably our best chance to have success in moving at the state level that Mundelein golf has ever had,” Magee said. “We can make a lot of great things happen for this school, and we have a lot of juniors on the team. We’re going to be back next year, but this could be a really special year for us.”
Correction: In the print edition, it was reported that in the Warren Invitational, Senior Nick Chuma scored 85 when he actually scored 76.