Josh Pehl tamed some of the most beautiful golf courses in the Aurora landscape last week.
Cody Ganzon only gained more trust when he was able to anchor the Kaneland Boys golf team to his first section title in program history last fall.
Hagan Rank, like his two older classmates, has three years of battlefield experience.
As the melting pot of the high school golf season – conference tournaments and the three-week state series – draws nearer, the Kaneland Triumvirate seeks to make one final boy’s golf season their own.
To professional historians, they are known as counterfactuals; Laypeople simply call them what-if.
Golf was one of the few preparatory sports played last fall, but unlike the spring partners, there was no real campaign ending without a state tournament.
The Knights not only conquered their own Class 2A last fall, but also prevailed a week later with 314-322 over Crystal Lake South for the first section title in program history in Freeport.
But there would be no payout in the form of a traditional two-day state final for the Knights due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
“I’ve never received an adequate answer as to why we couldn’t have a one-day state tournament,” said Kaneland coach Mark Meyer.
“I had the feeling that we had found our groove,” said Pehl. “I had the feeling that our team was really going to fight for this state title. It was tough, but it was still cool to break history and win the section.”
Pehl had two days of jealous play in Aurora last week for the Marmion and Batavia invitations.
On Wednesday, Pehl navigated the treacherous greens at the more than hundred-year-old Aurora Country Club and avoided the capricious winds to win medalists with a 74.
But Friday was even more impressive when he beat Orchard Valley, a two-time men’s public venue, with the lowest score – a sizzling 5 under 67 – in high school competition to win the 19-team Bulldog Invitational.
“I’ve got some good results, a few red numbers,” said Pehl.
Ganzon and Rank scored 76 and 79 as part of the commendable 301 grand total of the Orchard Valley Knights, placing Kaneland just outside the West Suburban Silver Juggernaut Lyons Twp. (286) and Hinsdale Central (292).
Another potential obstacle to government grade 2A hardware for Kaneland, Benet came third with 296.
Kaneland defeated 14 Class 3A programs on Friday, including local standard-bearers like Geneva, Batavia and both St. Charles High Schools.
“They’re bigger schools, usually better players,” Rank said of the Knights’ competition in the regular season against programs with bigger classes. “It helps us score a good goal to beat them.”
Ganzon posted a third place out of 75 last October to top the Knights Section Championship.
“The state of my game is that I think I can get some good results,” said Ganzon. “I’ve played a lot better this summer (and fall) than last year.”
The undisputed highlight for the Knights this season was winning the Mark Rolfing Cup – and the iconic 300 mark – at the Kishwaukee Country Club in DeKalb.
“We are all there for one another,” said Pehl. “We have a lot of depth to get good grades. I hope we find the right pieces for it.”
Meyer said he experimented with the lower end of his lineup to identify the six most suitable candidates for the Knights conference and postseason list.
The Knights’ first job is to defend the Interstate Eight Conference championship against a very dangerous Ottawa squad who played Kaneland 143-147 in the School League doubles game.
“You’re terribly good,” Meyer said of Ottawa. “Hopefully we’ll get them at the conference tournament.”
Ganzon is primed and ready.
“I’m confident in my game,” he said.
Brad Franck, Ryan Hahn, Rocco Rosati, Gavin Woods, Patrick Gampfer, Gabe Gooch, Kyle King and Brad Vohs complete the list of knights.