In 11 years coaching the Lincoln-Way East boys Golf team, Ryan Pohlmann has been to countless tournaments and seen dozens of talented players come and go. But two memories stick out among the rest: the Griffins' pair of state tournament appearances.
There was 2007, and then there was Oct. 18-19 at the Class 3A state tournament at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.
"There's no guarantee you're going to get back," he said. "So you have to really enjoy every minute of it."
This year's team, a mix of veteran leadership and talented newcomers who he described as playing all season with a sense of "style and a little bit of flair," did just that, putting together a solid showing at a tournament showcasing the state's best. Though they finished 12th, five strokes behind their closest opponent, the Griffins made sure they relished the opportunity, Pohlmann said.
"Overall, the kids were thrilled with the experience, and we just needed to play a little bit better on a couple holes," he said.
After a solid front 9 on Day 1, including scores of 37 from junior Jake White and 38 from sophomore Victor Perez, the Griffins dropped off a bit and never really caught up.
White was the team's top performer with a two-round score of 157, and seniors Matt Contey and Tyler Kelly followed with scores of 160 and 167 respectively.
For Contey and Kelly, both of whom are hoping to continue playing in college, the trip to state was years in the making. Contey played varsity all four years, while Kelly played three, but neither had been to state before.
"They've been close but just haven't been able to get down there," Pohlmann said.
And though the Griffins didn't finish on the medal stand, Pohlmann said his squad still has plenty to be proud of.
"The kids really battled through the tournament," he said. "The grind of the state tournament is, when you face adversity and you make a double or a couple of bogies in a row, you have to fight the emotions of 'I'm out it.'"
Though Contey, Kelly and fellow senior Dan Olivieri, who hopes to study medicine in college, have played their last high school Golf, East still has plenty of talent leftover.
With state tournament experience, the team's current sophomores and juniors will step into next season ready to go, Pohlmann said.
"You're forever changed for having gone through it," he said. "You're more confident going into tournaments. You have that experience, and it's
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