With six seniors returning from last year's team, the OPRF boys' golf squad swings into this year with hopes of a trip downstate.
The Huskies, who tied for second in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference last year, missed advancing to State in 2004 due to a poor performance at sectionals. This year, however, they are trying to forget that and focus on bigger things.
"One of our team goals is definitely to advance downstate," said Matt Kowalczyk, one of the Huskies' six returning seniors.
Last year, Brad Schwarz, who was then the Huskies' No. 1 player and is expected to again return to that role this season, was the only Huskie to make it out of sectionals and compete at State. Returning the entire team is a feat the Huskies feel they are capable of, even with powerhouses Fenwick and Lyons Township possibly ending up in their sectional.
"We have a really good chance of making it down as a team," said Kowalczyk, "even though Fenwick is incredibly tough this year."
The Huskies also are hoping to be one of the top teams in the conference.
"We want to win or at least place second in conference," said Kowalczyk. "We'll have a really good team this year."
The Huskies will be led by Schwarz, who enters his fourth and final year on the varsity squad. At last year's State tournament, Schwarz bounced back from a lackluster 89 in the first round to record four birdies in the final round for an 81. He shot a 75 at the St. Ignatius Sectional to qualify for State.
Kevin Economos, another returning senior, is expected to play in the second spot for the Huskies. Dom Emery had a very strong performance in tryouts for the Huskies, and will more than likely play in the third spot. Kowalczyk and Graham Holdren are expected to fill in the fourth and fifth slots, while John Fodor rounds out No. 6.
With a much larger number of seniors than normal and a strong supporting cast of juniors, the Huskies are poised to have one of their best seasons in recent history.
In an effort to prep the team for the strenuous post-season, head coach John Gann increased the number of tournaments the team will compete in during the regular season. This includes a tournament in Champaign on Aug. 27; a trip which will also include playing the same course where the State championship will be held.
Besides making it to State and performing well on the course this year, the Huskies have another goal.
"We just want to have fun this year, because our team is mainly seniors," said Kowalczyk. "This year we have a chance to do something that our school hasn't ever done. It's a really great group of guys, and it would be really fun if we could represent our school in a positive way."