Boys golf: season roundup

The OPRF boys golf team is full of talented and composed golfers. Senior veterans Nate Bibbey, Liam Spillane, Niko Haas, Chris Hedrich, and Maddox Neumann are important leaders that help the team in their own unique ways.

The golf team recently found success in a win in the Huskie Cup, an annual match against the Naperville North Huskies. The team also participated in the Champagne Invite. Niko Haas and Liam Spillane both shot 74, finishing in third and fourth overall, helping the Huskies to a second place team finish. The team shot a 304 in the invite on a course that is par 72, which is the best score they have had in years. Liam Spillane, Niko Haas, Nate Bibbey, and Maddox Neumann all shot in the ’70s.

With the setback of COVID-19 in 2020, golf was the first sport to restart at OPRF. The team had to do temperature checks, wear masks on the bus, and they could not play in tournaments outside the conference.

This season, normal rules have returned, allowing them to play in tournaments such as the Champagne Invite. “The kids know what it takes and they know that we have to be really vigilant about making sure we are taking precautions so we don’t get shut down,” said head coach Bill Young.

“Last year, we were not allowed to have spectators at our events, but this year it’s great to see a lot of parents, especially the parents of seniors at our events,” Young said.

Competing with varsity for his first season, junior Kevin Cortez credits much of the team’s success to the seniors. “The year has been a senior stacked team with only two juniors and a sophomore so we definitely have to rely on the seniors to come through, which they do,” he says.

Cortez continued by saying, “I think the leadership means a lot. Especially this being my first year on the golf team, the seniors are always helping me with course outlines, reading the greens, and just what to expect when playing.”

Liam Spillane credits some of the success to the leadership of senior Maddox Neumann. “He really takes this seriously and wants us to do well,” he says.

Senior Nate Bibbey says some of the success buds from confidence. “Confidence has helped our team win this year. When everyone is confident, that’s when things start to go our way and we start playing better,” he says.

However, Coach Young would know what helps the team the best, and he attributes the success to the team’s composure on the golf course. “Golf is a crazy game. It makes you want to lose your cool. But their ability to handle setbacks and keep their mind focused on golf, I think that’s probably what has helped us most because as far as talent, we have some kids who are really great at golf,” Young said.

Overall, Young thinks the season can give the OPRF golf program momentum for the future. “We had over 35 kids tryout for JV,” he says. “Competing in a really difficult conference that we’re in, we have to keep improving and we have a long way to go, but we’re on the right trajectory.”