BLOOMINGTON — Monticello golf coach Andrew Turner knew what he had in veteran team members Will Ross and Tanner Buehnerkemper entering the fall season: In his words, “two of the best we’ve ever had.”
The rest of the squad? It was a complete unknown, with the rest of the scorers competing in high school golf for the first time.
So it was a pleasant surprise when his Sages finished eighth overall at the IHSA State Golf Tournament in Bloomington over the weekend after advancing with a second-place finish at sectionals earlier in the week.
“We knew that Tanner and Will were going to be two of the best we’ve ever had,” Turner said.
They came through, Ross with a two-day total of 153, good for 20th place overall. Buehnerkemper contributed a 158 for 31st place.
Not far behind was freshman Maddux Quick’s 161. Classmate Andrew Neef scored a 192 to round out the Monticello scoring at state.
“Our other top four players (outside of Ross and Buehnerkemper) had never played high school golf prior to this year. Sam Davison was a junior and they we added three freshman in Quick, Kross Reynolds and Neef. So, honestly I did not see the probability of a state appearance,” Turner said.
“And Tanner and Will took their games to another level,” he added.
Ross set a school record for lowest nine-hole average during a season, and said that prior to the state tourney, had high expectations for the Sages.
“I saw flashes of really good things that (proved), if we put them all together, we’d be right up there at the top,” Ross said.
Buehnerkemper said it was nice to be back to normal for fall sports in 2021.
“Last year, making it to the sectional felt like state, but it didn’t feel the same,” Buehnerkemper said. “All sports didn’t feel the same. This year, everything is back to normal — as much as it can be.”
Monticello nearly did not make the cut after the first round, with just eight of 12 allowed to advance. But Beecher dropped below the Sages in its final holes, boosting MHS back into the top eight.
“We were super excited,” said Turner. “It was stressful, but exciting too.”
Kross scored a 194 total for the two days, and Davison contributed a 198 for the Sages.
It was Monticello’s best finish at state since a fourth place overall in 2016. MHS also finished 11th in 2017.
To reach the state meet, Monticello placed second with a score of 333 in the Golf Sectional at Beecher. Host Beecher won the meet with a team score of 323.
Ross shot a 76, and Buehnerkemper finished one stroke behind at 77.
Quick carded an 86, and Davison finished with a score of 94.
Reynolds and Neef rounded out the Sages’ scoring by carding a 99 and 101, respectively.