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Ottawa senior Dane Lehr watches his drive on Hole No. 15 Wednesday during the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Tournament at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club in La Salle. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
Ottawa sophomore Carter Piercy used to live on the course at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club in La Salle.
“I played here every day in the summer,” Piercy said.
Piercy’s familiarity with the course showed Wednesday as he shot a 5-over-par 77 to tie for fifth place at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Tournament.
“It was really good,” said Piercy, who had a birdie on Hole No. 12 and did not double bogey a hole. “I hit my iron shots great, my drives were down the middle and my putting saved me a lot today.”
The sophomore’s performance helped the Pirates to a 319 team score and the West Division tournament title.
Ottawa placed third overall behind Yorkville (308) and DeKalb (312).
“I’m really, really proud of them,” Ottawa coach Dave Wultzen said. “This is a great accomplishment for their season, and we want to build off of this. This is the time you want to be hot and be playing your best golf. They really responded well. It’s a really nice win today.”
Along with Piercy’s 77, Dane Lehr tied for 13th with an 80, while Blake Johnson and Ben Calkins shared 15th place with matching 81s.
“We told them (Tuesday) night in practice to quit thinking so much on the course and play the game,” Wultzen said. “The other night during a match their heads were hanging and they were walking slow. We told them to relax and play your game.
“Today I think they came out more relaxed and we got some good scores from kids. We talked the other day about knocking a couple strokes off and it will bring everything down. This was the best we’ve played the entire season.”
Although the Pirates won the West tournament title, it wasn’t enough to lift Ottawa to the overall season crown.
Ottawa entered the tournament in fourth place based on dual points and jumped into second place with the strong tournament showing.
Geneseo won the overall season title with 22 points. Ottawa had 19 points and La Salle-Peru finished sixth among the six teams with five points.
The Pirates did not win the overall season team title, but they boast the individual West MVP in Lehr, who finished with 20 points to edge Geneseo’s Eric Dellet (19).
Teammates Piercy and Johnson also earned all-conference honors by placing in the top nine.
“There are a lot of good players in our conference and to come out on top is just a really great honor,” Lehr said. “It’s a good feeling.”
L-P finished with 359 strokes Tuesday, placing 11th overall and fifth in the West Division.
Kyle Hanck led the way for the Cavaliers with an 85, while John Pohar added a season-low 86. Alex Somolski and Nick Guisti each had a 94 for L-P.
“The team score I believe is the lowest we had this year,” L-P coach Randy Gunia said. “It’s improvement, so hopefully it will carry over into regionals.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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