DIXON — The Ottawa boys golf team fell one stroke short of a team title Tuesday at the Class 2A Dixon Golf Regional, and Princeton’s Cole Evenson was just two shots away from the individual crown as he helped the Tigers claim the third and final team sectional berth at Timber Creek Golf Club.
But even if the finishes were a touch bittersweet, the main goal was accomplished as the Pirates and Tigers earned team trips to the Belvidere North Sectional, where they will be joined by Mendota individual qualifiers Jaron Robinson and Mark Prescott.
The Pirates, who fell 323-324 to champion Sterling, were led with a round of 78 from Bailey Lehr on the Par 71 course.
“It’s about the best I could of shot. I was scrapping around a little bit, but my short game was going for me so that worked out,” said Lehr, who carded a lone birdie on Hole No. 11. “I was scrapping it around, but I was getting it into the hole.
“I’m a little disappointed (in finishing second), but not much though. We wanted to win this one, but we’ll go into sectionals and try to win that one,” Lehr added.
Hot on Lehr’s heels were Lane Barbier with a 79 and cousin Dane Lehr with an 80, while Carter Piercey rounded out the OTHS card with an 87.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet win. It’s fantastic we’re moving on, but you hate to lose a regional championship match by one stroke,” Ottawa coach Dave Wultzen said. “We’ve won some matches this year by one stroke too, so it was probably time — but it’s tough that (luck) just happened to pick today.”
Evenson’s round of 75, two strokes behind medalist Andrew Blackburn of Sterling, kept the Tigers in contention for the third and final team berth.
“It feels pretty good. I’ve been playing pretty good lately and hope to keep it up at sectional and go to state,” said Evenson, who landed birdies on Holes No. 5 and No. 9. “I started off bad on the first two holes but after that I set the tone.”
The PHS crew of Evenson, Hunter Schultz (85), Zach Hicks (88) and Ian Nichols (100) had an anxious, math-filled wait after posting their rounds as they were forced to crunch numbers until the final card of the day came in before learning of their third-place finish and team berth.
“We may not have been in school today, but we definitely got a math lesson coming down the stretch here trying to figure out how much it was going to take for Oregon to bump us out of third,” PHS coach Duane Price said. “We knew we had the potential (to advance), but we knew we were going to have to play well enough — and we just barely made it.”
While Evenson would have loved to get the individual win, taking his Tiger teammates to the sectional alongside him was all the reward he needed.
“I’m pretty happy we got out as a team. I look forward to going to sectionals with my team. It gives you support,” Evenson said.
Robinson earned his trip to sectional action with a round of 84, while Prescott finished four strokes behind at 88.
“It’s nice to have some kids moving out,” MHS coach Tim Dessing said. “I don’t think we played as well as we could have team wise, but we were hopeful we would get two or three individuals out, and we got a couple individuals out.
“Jaron was one of the ones we thought could have a chance to get out and Mark Presott played really, really well today. If you’re going to have a good round, this is the time to do it.”
La Salle-Peru did not qualify any golfers for the sectional. Alex Somolski led the way for the Cavaliers with a round of 91, two shots out from the final qualifying berth.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.