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Krupa, Pluth claim titles at Joliet Junior Amateur

JOLIET – After a competitive first day at the Joliet Park District’s Joliet Junior Amateur, where four golfers were within four strokes of the top spot in the 16 to 18 age division, there figured to be some drama in Tuesday’s final round.

And that’s precisely what happened at Woodruff Golf Course with Monday’s top two finishers, Jon Krupa and Victor Perez, Jr., tied for the lead heading into the 18th hole.

But things didn’t go down to the wire after Krupa made a great approach and recorded a birdie, while Perez settled for a bogey on the hole.

Krupa, who’ll be a senior at Downers Grove South, shot a 70 to follow up on his first-round 74 for a two-day total of 144. Perez, who’ll be a junior at Lincoln-Way East, shot a 75 on Monday and a 71 in the final round for a 146 score.

“Victor and I were tied going into the last hole, and he was playing some great golf and had just birdied 17 and that was scaring me,” Krupa said. “On my second shot, I had to back off a few times since I was getting so shaky. I told myself I just had to hit it and go for the best and sure enough, I stuck it real close and all of the pressure was off.

“Coach (Paul) Downey from St. Francis told me to come to this tournament, and I was getting worried after I saw some of the players. It was good playing against Victor and Huston (Gass) told me a lot about playing at St. Francis.”

Although he fell just short of capturing the title, Perez believes that he benefited from competing in the tournament.

“All of the scores in our group were pretty close, and even though there was lot of pressure, it was fun overall and a good experience,” Perez said. “I was also close in the club championship here, and that also was fun. I felt like I’ve gone down two or three strokes from last season, so that’s a big gain.”

St. Francis’ Huston Gass was third after the opening day, but was passed for that spot by Mark Boykin, a junior at Joliet Central, who followed up on a 77 with a 72 for a 149 total while Gass shot a 75 on Tuesday and a 76 the day before to finish with a 151 score.

Two other competitors in the older division made big improvements upon from their first-day efforts. Jake Bugajski shot an 81 on Tuesday, while Matt Kinsella fired an 82.

There was a tie atop the standings in the 13 to 15 age group at 79 after the first day but Jake Pluth turned in an 81 and finished with a 160 total. Thomas Rodriguez, who will be a sophomore at Peotone, shot a 91 on Tuesday to finish with a 170.

Pluth, who will be a freshman at Joliet Catholic, also won the JPD’s Junior Tournament Boys B title by 10 strokes earlier this month.

“I thought that I did okay on the first day,” Pluth said. “I was hitting it straight but when I hit it right, I’d end up with a double- or triple-bogey. This is a hard course, so today I decided that I was going to play everything safe and I did that by hitting more irons.

“When I found out that I was tied going into the second day, I was sort of worried at first since I’ve usually been up in these tournaments. But when I walked onto the course today, I thought to myself that there was no way that I was going to lose. I’m really excited about high school and being able to play against some other kids.”

Four others in that age group also improved upon their Monday rounds, including Tanner McClintock, who shot a 92 to finish third with a 197 total. Also turning in better scores on Tuesday were Maddy Palmer, Troy Tidaback and Brandyn Collins.

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