Oak Park and River Forest High School golfer Nate Bibbey saved his best for last in the IHSA Class 3A state finals held on Oct. 8 and 9 in Bloomington at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course.
The senior finished his career as a state medalist, placing seventh with a score of 143. After shooting a 74 on Friday, Bibbey followed up on Saturday with a 69, finishing 1-under par for the weekend and only six strokes behind the Class 3A champion, Jason Gordon of Glenbrook North.
“I was pretty confident going into the weekend. Everything started to click for me and my ball-striking was on point,” said Bibbey. “I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot to happen, but I also felt I was at my best.”
Saturday’s round was played in windy conditions, which made Bibbey’s score more impressive. OPRF coach Bill Young served as Bibbey’s caddie, and Bibbey thought that helped him.
“We were talking through every shot, trying to figure out our numbers and what we should do,” he said. “Once we found that number, we committed to it, and everything worked out for us.”
According to Young, Bibbey’s score is the third-best ever for an OPRF golfer in the state tournament.
“In his final round, he had seven birdies,” Young said. “He displayed amazing confidence and composure, and it was a magical finish to a great four-year career. Nate had never shot below 70, and he chose his final round as a high school golfer to shoot his best score on the biggest stage.”
Young felt Bibbey’s showing was a byproduct of his season-long efforts.
“It’s just absolutely remarkable,” he said. “Nate worked really hard and earned every bit of it, and he’s going out like a champ.”
The Huskies wound up with two golfers in the top 30 in state as senior Liam Spillane’s two-round total of 151 was good for 30th place, something Young said was a great achievement.
The good showings by Bibbey and Spillane capped what Young felt was a very good season for OPRF, led by his four seniors, Bibbey, Spillane, Niko Haas, and Maddox Neumann.
“This was a great step forward for the program,” he said. “I’ve had this core group of four boys the last four years, and they’ve worked really hard and been a joy to coach. It was really cool that Maddox and Niko came down to support their teammates, especially Niko, who just missed qualifying by one stroke. They’ve set the standard for the younger golfers to follow of what it means to work hard and together as a team.”
Bibbey was also appreciative of Haas and Neumann cheering him on because that’s an example of the strong bonds he has with his teammates.
“It was fun. They were always there for every shot, and it’s nice to have your teammates come down and support you,” he said. “This is the best season we’ve ever had, and this could be the best one we see in a while.”
Bibbey is undecided as to where he will play in college. But he’s likely to go down as one of the best boys golfers OPRF has ever had.
Three Friars compete at state finals
Fenwick junior Nick Scudder shot a two-round total of 152 (74-78) to finish tied for 28th place in the IHSA Class 2A state finals Oct. 8-9 in Normal at Illinois State University’s Weibring Golf Club.
In girls action, the Friars had two individuals compete in the Class 2A state finals held in Forsyth at Hickory Point Golf Course on Oct. 8 and 9.
Senior Lillian Bateman finished tied for 60th with a score of 186 (86-80), while junior Charlotte Bateman tied for 66th with a 168 (86-82).