But last week, the Griffins settled for a great consolation prize — a trip to the state tournament.
East finished third at the Illinois High School Association Class 3A Pekin Sectional Monday, Oct. 14, at Lick Creek Golf Course in Pekin. Junior Jake White paced the Griffins with a 75 as they advanced to state for the second time in school history.
"Our goal is to still win a sectional title as a team," East coach Ryan Pohlmann said. "But we'll take this. It's a great opportunity, and there's no guarantee that you will ever be back."
East finished with a team score of 316. Quincy won the sectional title with a 307. Normal Community High School was second at 314. The Top 3 teams and the Top 10 individuals not from a qualifying team advanced to the state tournament, held Oct. 18-19 at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington.
"We definitely have a lot of good teams in the area," White said. "But this is the best. I've been on varsity all four years, and I've never been to state. As a senior, I couldn't ask for better.
"I had a good start to the day, hitting a lot of fairways. My approach was just to keep it in play."
White had the best score of the day on the front nine with a 1-under-par 35. He shot a 40 on the back, but his good start was able to propel him to the fifth-best individual score and help give the Griffins some leeway.
"The good start gave me a little cushion," White said. "I opened with six straight pars and had a birdie on No. 7, which was a par 4. Then the wind started picking up on the back nine. But on No. 12, a par 3, I made a downhill putt from 35 feet for birdie, and that got me back on track.
"Plus, Matt [Contey] turned it on down the back nine and really did well."
Contey had an excellent back nine score — a 2-under-par 34 — for a 78 total on the day.
"I had some trouble on the front, but my putter turned it around on the back nine," said Contey, who carded a 44 on the front. "I had a birdie on 10 that turned it around and ended up with three birdies and a bogey on the back nine.
"It's my first time ever at state, [and] I'm definitely excited and can't wait."
Seniors Tyler Kelly (81) and Dan Olivieri (82) rounded out the Top 4 for the Griffins. Victor Perez (84) and Lee Hill (85) were right behind for East.
"Matt had his typical thunderous final nine holes," Pohlmann said. "And Jake did great to finish with a 75 on this course. But I'm especially proud of Danny Olivieri to step up and finish with a 42 and a 40 for 82. That was very special and meant a lot to the team."
To continue reading and view more photos, login or sign up for Hometown Advantage: