OPRF's Jack Panichelli watches his chip shot to the 16th green at Indian Boundary Golf Course on Saturday Aug. 12 2023. | Ian McLeod

The Oak Park and River High School boys golf team started the year in impressive fashion with three consecutive invitational victories.

On Aug. 11, the Huskies won the Jones-Payton Invitational with a score of 296, eight strokes better than runner-up Evanston Township. Senior Peter Armstrong paced OPRF with a third-place finish, shooting a 72. 

Senior Jake Goldberg and sophomore Kenneth McCaffrey each shot 74 to tie for 14th. Sophomore Luke Roberts shot a 76 and junior Charlie Newman a 78 to round out the Huskies’ lineup.

The following day, OPRF was again in the winner’s circle in a quad invitational against Jones-Payton Co-Op, Morton and Riverside-Brookfield. 

Goldberg (76), Roberts (73) and sophomore James Kelly (76) each birdied their final shots, and those proved to be the difference as the Huskies’ team score of 299 was three strokes better than Jones-Payton.

Finally on Aug. 14 at the Mount Carmel Invite, OPRF completed the sweep by defeating crosstown rival Fenwick 311 to 314. Armstrong led the way with a round of 76, with Goldberg and Newman each carding a 77.

“We have a young team this year, so winning that tournament Friday was a really big deal,” head coach Bill Young said. “This weekend is definitely a confidence-builder, and it’s a testament to the work they’ve put in.”

Goldberg and Roberts qualified for sectionals last year, and Young believes each is in for another good season.

“Jake won an IJGA (Illinois Junior Golf Association) tournament this summer and had several top-five finishes,” he said. “Luke was a freshman on varsity last year and continues to improve.”

Young is also confident about Armstrong making an impact on the Huskies this fall.

“Peter finished as our number one after tryouts,” he said. “He didn’t play golf his freshman or sophomore year but continues to improve at a rapid pace. Peter was shooting in the mid-80s last year; now he’s shooting in the mid-70s.”

OPRF hopes that its improved depth, along with good chemistry, can help navigate a tough schedule in the West Suburban Silver, which Young describes as “an elite golf conference in the state of Illinois.”

“We’re a much better team than last year, though it’s still early,” he said. “I expect our boys to continue to work hard, and our younger players to get great experience this year and learn from the older players.”

OPRF girls golf

The OPRF girls golf team took third in the West Suburban Silver in 2022 and advanced to the sectional. With seven of the top eight players returning, the Huskies are brimming with confidence and optimism.

“I am feeling great about our prospects this season,” said OPRF coach Matt McMurray. “This is the deepest team I’ve ever coached, and every player in our top eight is capable of scoring the lowest score in any given match.”

OPRF has an experienced lineup led by seniors Emmy Amstutz, Grace Gallagher, Ella Homrok, Faith Lee, Teigan Macek, Trinity Mosher, and Renner Prouty. Lee is a three-year captain; Amstutz and Mosher made all-conference last fall; and Homrok, another captain, was the fourth-place regional medalist.

Other returning Huskies are juniors Molly Medland, Jane Souders, and Isabel Stickney. A newcomer to watch is freshman Nadia Vattana, whom McMurray feels is “a future star for us.”

McMurray hopes the Huskies will compete with the Dukes and Trojans for second in the conference. He also wants to win the regional, something the program hasn’t done since 2018.

“I want to finish higher than we did last year at both conference and regional,” McMurray said. “And I would love for our team, or one or more of our top girls, to make it downstate.”

OPRF’s scheduled season opener versus Lyons Township on Aug. 14 was postponed due to weather. Next up is Willowbrook on Aug. 16.

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