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Trio of golfers head to sectional

For a trio of local golfers, it will be trip No. 3, 2 and 1 to the Class 1A sectional.

Leading the way is Oregon junior Adam Merrill, who qualified out of the regional for the third year in a row. Joining him are Polo’s Mack Llanas of Polo, for the second time and Lane Hopkins on his maiden journey.

It was Llanas with the best score among the three with an 83. Merrill and Hopkins carded 88s on the PrarieView Golf Club.

“What helped out was not having any high scores,” said Llanas, who had a consistent 41-42. “This course has tough greens and is windy, more so than we saw at (conference) Wolf Hollow.”

Hopkins came off the front nine feeling confident after shooting 42.

However, a triple bogey at No. 10 set him back. He recovered with a 46 to come in two shots ahead of the cutoff.

“It was a struggle on the back nine,” said Hopkins, who missed by one stroke of making it into a playoff for the final sectional spot last year. “On hole number 10, I went out of bounds.”

As a team, the Marcos came within three shots of advancing, finishing fourth with a 365, as Trevin Woodin (95) and Hayden Bittinger (99) rounded out the scoring.

Rockford Christian won the meet with a 337, followed by host Byron (346) and Rockford Lutheran (362).

“We overachieved this year,” Llanas said.

For a team that struggled to find a fourth scorer after Llanas, Hopkins and Trevin Woodin, Coach Don Reece agreed with that.

“I’m really happy with the year,” Reece said. “We did overachieve and had a chance to get out (of regional). I’m not disappointed at all. This is first time we had four scores under 100.”

With a team of mostly novices, Oregon finished well back with a 398.

Merrill was hoping for better than an 88, but looks forward to the sectional, where he has played quite well in the past.

“I love this course, but couldn’t putt at all,” he said. “About every other hole was a 3-putt. I’ve got another round (sectional) to make up for it. The sectional is just another tournament and it won’t bother me.”

Merrill has been up and down all season and coach Jim Spratt is confident of his chances at the Rockford Christian Life sectional.

“It was a little bit of a letdown for Adam. He wasn’t sharp with his wedges and putter,” Spratt said. “He’ll have a chance to redeem himself at Elliot.”

Just missing the cut for the Hawks was Jackson Buck, who couldn’t rebound from a 51, which included an 8 and 9, on his first (back) nine. He finished with a 40, but needed one stroke better to make the playoff for the final sectional berth.

Other scorers for Oregon were Jarrett Dietrich (106) and Eddie Buttons (113).

“We made improvement,” Spratt said. “We had some guys that had never held a club before this season and we won four matches.

Byron’s Jon Silvers survived missing a 3-foot putt for birdie on the second playoff hole to come back and claim medalist honors between two other golfers that finished with 77s.

At the Freeport Aquin Class 1A regional, Forreston had Andrew Bratina and Christian Groenewold qualify for the sectional.

“I’m really happy for them, especially Christian with being a senior,” Forreston coach Matt Hanley said.

Playing as the top two golfers all season, Bratina and Groenewold did not disappoint, carding a 90 and 94 respectively.

Forreston’s score of 398 was good for seventh out of 13 teams. Other scorers for Forreston were Mark DeWall and Mavric Rudy.

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