Like every other spring sport athlete, Naperville Central’s Jack Busch found himself quarantined at home in March instead of where he wanted to be — playing shortstop for the Redhawks.
A talented multisport athlete, Busch didn’t have to wait until the 2021 baseball season to compete for his school again. Busch and his Redhawk golf teammates teed it up Monday at the 31st annual Bob Sterr Invitational at Naperbrook.
Busch led the charge for Naperville Central, firing a 33 on the back nine for a team-best 73 as the Redhawks finished in second place out of six teams, one shot behind Neuqua Valley.
“After missing the whole aspect of participating on a team for school, it is great to have that back finally,” Busch said.
Considered a low-risk sport, golf teams around the state have returned to competition. Practicing now, cross country, girls tennis and girls swimming will be back in game action soon.
Busch is hoping golf can set an example for how other sports can return safely.
“In a sport like golf you can take off and run with it,” Busch said. “Once you are out there and you can play, keep your distance, it is really good to show people we can still compete in these times. It’s something special. COVID has just changed everybody’s perspective on life. Golf is something we can stay constant in and leading the athletes at Central into the season and give some motivation to winter sports and spring sports.”
Busch, a senior, got off to a bit of a slow start Monday with a double bogey on the fifth hole on the way to a 40 on the front. He found his stride on the back, capping his round with an eagle on No. 18.
Busch drove long, finding a good lie in the left rough with 160 yards to the pin. His 8-iron came within 10 feet where Busch sank a slightly left to right putt.
As well as Busch and his Naperville Central teammates played Monday, Neuqua Valley was a little better, shooting a 295 to Naperville Central’s 296.
Calvin Steger fired a 70 to take first place. Ryan Coan (72), Richie Mattia (76) and Gus Herzberg (77) made up Neuqua’s top four.
Benet also was in the mix for the title with a 298 paced by Jack DiTrani’s 74 and 75s from Ryan Dannegger, Conor Richards and Ryan Fargo.
Metea Valley finished fourth at 302. Arjun Vyas won a scorecard playoff to take second with a 72. Eli Oakes and Kyle Bucher both shot 76s and Johnny Kerns had a 78.
Naperville North (313) and Waubonsie Valley (314) rounded out the six schools led by Leo Oberma (75) and Salil Khanduja (74), respectively.
In addition to Busch, the Redhawks got 75s from Ben Anderson and Harvey Wang and a 76 by Brady Schultze.
“There was some great golf played today,” Naperville Central coach Barry Baldwin said. “I think they have big expectations and they are playing to those expectations which is always fun to see as a coach.”
Baldwin also appreciated the way teams followed IHSA guidelines including wearing masks except while they took shots.
“I thought it was a real good start to the golf season especially following the COVID protocols,” Baldwin said. “It’s hard for some kids to play with a mask on but they did it.”