Written by Dennis Mahoney.
Evanston senior golfer Jackson Mihevc fired a two-over-par 74 and earned his second straight individual runnerup finish at the Central Suburban League South division championship meet held Tuesday at Glencoe Golf Club.
Now, Mihevc and his Wildkit teammates are aiming even higher after being outscored by a close 307-310 margin in the team standings by perennial power New Trier. With that second place tournament finish, Evanston pulled into an overall tie for second place in the CSL South with Glenbrook South after losing to the Titans in dual meet action.
Evanston also counted a 77 by sixth place finisher Jake Casati, plus a 79 by Sam Knepper and an 80 by Henry Gruger. Also competing for ETHS were Evan Ter Molen (81), Marty Fenn (82) and Bill Nondorf (84).
ETHS will have its final regular season tuneup on Saturday at the New Trier Invitational on the same course (Winnetka Park District) that will also host the Illinois High School Association regional tournament on Oct. 8.
“We definitely feel like this will be our best chance to go Downstate this year,” said Mihevc, a past state qualifier as an individual. “It’ll be tough to beat out teams like New Trier, Glenbrook North and Loyola, but we’ve beaten them all this year, and we’re right there with them. All six of our guys can produce scores that count and I think our best trait as a team this year has been our consistency.
“It’s nice for me to be able to represent Evanston and finish second today, but really, it was just my day today. All of the guys behind me on our team are just as good as I am.”
Mihevc finished two strokes behind medalist Jake Lee of Niles West. Mihevc carded an eagle on the No. 2 hole and then added four birdies to his total, which was two shots better than the next finisher behind him, New Trier’s Will Connelly at 76.
“I hit a good drive on No. 2, about 250 yards in, and then I made a 20-foot putt. That was a pretty good way to start my round off,” Mihevc said.
ETHS head coach Jed Curtis thinks his squad is building toward a deep postseason run, and said a series of close losses during the season --- including Tuesday --- has lit a fire under the Wildkits rather than discouraging them.
“I think the class is definitely half full for us,” Curtis said. “We’re still trending in the right direction. I think our players are getting more and more confident. Jake Casati is really playing solid golf, and Jackson has been solid for us all year long.
“We didn’t do a good job of finishing off some holes today. But I’m really excited for Sam Knepper. He knew he needed a birdie on that last hole to break 80, and he went and chipped it in. He’s really a fierce competitor and he really plays smart golf, too. Today he knew he wasn’t hitting his driver well, so he put it away and went with his 3-wood off the tee.
“We feel we’re right there with New Trier and GBN and they’re two of the top programs in the state. I think being close to these teams has been more of a confidence builder for our kids than it has been frustrating. They know it’s not insurmountable, that we don’t need to catch lightning in a bottle, to catch those top teams. We just have to play our game. They’re hungry, and I feel like they’re getting hungrier. And I don’t think they’re taking anything for granted. They know they have to go out and make it happen.”