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All aboard the Cole train

DIXON — The Princeton Tiger golf team hopped aboard the Cole train to advance to the sectional round of IHSA golf competition.

Senior Cole Evenson fired a 4-over 75 to finish two strokes behind meet medalist Andrew Blackburn (73) of Sterling in Tuesday’s Dixon Regional at Timber Creek Golf Course in Dixon. His strong finish helped the Tigers claim the third and final qualifying berth for Monday’s Belvidere Sectional.

“I knew I needed to put up a good score in order for us to move on I feel like I did. It just feels good to be able to do that for my team,” Evenson said.

“I’ve said time and again that we’d need to find a fourth score if we were going to advance as a team. I now stand corrected. Apparently, we could do it with Cole going low,” PHS coach Duane Price said. “I had heard that Cole started off poorly, but when I caught up to him on hole 16, I could tell that things had come together by his confident demeanor and mental focus on the last few holes.”

Price said the Tigers had some anxious moments waiting for Oregon’s scores to be posted. They knew they had beat out Rochelle, but didn’t know about the Hawks.

“I joked that we may not have been in school today, but we definitely had a math lesson or two as the final few scores per posted. We knew it’d come down to the scores of Oregon’s top two players, and, fortunately for us, we came out on the advancing side,” Price said.

Sterling (323) edged Ottawa (324) by one stroke to win the regional title. PHS took third at 348, three strokes ahead of Rochelle and seven ahead of Oregon.

Also scoring for the Tigers were Hunter Schultz (85), Zach Hicks (88) and Ian Nichols (100) with Miles Rose (111) and Derec Roberson (112) rounding out the PHS scorecard.

“While the scores weren’t all that special, the overall accomplishment definitely is,” Price said. “The team has played solidly as of late, and a sectional advancement is simply the reward for the hard work the players have put in during practice. I drilled the players on skills and fundamentals this past week of practice, and I’m assuming that some of them understand why now.”

Evenson didn’t exactly come out on fire, starting out with double bogey and a bogey. After that he finished 1-over through the next 16 holes.

“Cole started and finished similarly when he won the P.I.T. a few weeks ago. I don’t think he enjoys starting with bogeys, but subconsciously it focuses him more,” Price said. “It’s a pattern that we’ll hope changes soon, say before the sectional round. ”

Mendota (365) placed seventh as a team, advancing Jaron Robinson (84) and Mark Prescott (88) individually. Ninth-place LaSalle-Peru (385) did not advance any golfers.

The PHS and Mendota golfers advance to the Belvidere Sectional on Monday at Timber Pointe Golf Course in Poplar Grove. Evenson said they planned to play the course over the weekend.