MOUNT PROSPECT – After showing a lot of potential for a breakout season with a solid summer, Lyons Township’s Max Rockrohr was set to be more than a spectator at the Class 3A state tournament.
Lyons Township coach Brian Kopecky jokingly referred to Rockrohr as “a bodyguard” at state last season.
Rockrohr lived up to the early-season hype this year, earning second place with a 71 at the Addison Trail Invite in the first meet of the season.
But Kopecky said Rockrohr, a junior, struggled to find a consistent groove.
“Max was the guy who came off the summer and had played really well and also at the tryouts and had a great first tournament,” Kopecky said. “But all of a sudden, it went south on him. It was inconsistent, not what I thought he would be.”
Rockrohr returned to his stellar form Oct. 8. He shot a 73 at the Class 3A Prospect Sectional at the Prospect Golf Club. Rockrohr carded a 35 on the front nine and added a 38 on the back nine to advance to this weekend’s state tournament at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.
Rockrohr said he expected his season to include a few more highlights in the regular season, though he was happy to advance to state.
“I played well all summer and shot well at Addison Trail, so I was actually expecting something good,” Rockrohr. “But I just never got anything going throughout the season until today. I got back into the 70s at the end of the year, but then I hit the ball and putted well today.
“I think I knew what I had to do, was capable of doing it, and it was just getting everything to go well together,” he said. “I just started playing well right off the bat and I knew I could have some good going today.”
The Lions shot a 311 and missed the top-three cut to advance to the state tourney. Senior Mike Kozub, a three-year varsity player, shot a 77 while Griffin Pohl carded an 80. Nick Panos added an 81, Trent Garrett shot an 82 and Owen Figge added a 95.
“Off the tee, I felt pretty good, but my ball striking was not good,” Kozub said.
Panos, a senior, said he won’t play golf in college. The sectional marked the end of his three-year varsity career.
“I felt great today and was hitting it nice on the front, but the back fell apart and didn’t shoot great,” Panos said. “High school golf was great. I met so many people and had a great time.”
After winning the Chicago Lane Regional with a team score of 298, York failed to punch a ticket to state with a 309. Sophomore Zach Sutter shaved off four strokes from his regional score to finish with a 77, while teammates Matthew Buckley and Sam Bartolone also both shot 77s. Buckley had a stellar showing on the back nine, carding a 35.
Sutter said one of his highlights was a two-putt birdie on No. 15.
“The greens were a little rough and the pins were in tough spots, but I thought I hit good putts but just didn’t make anything,” Sutter said. “The team started playing well at the end of the year after a shaky start and gave some teams a lot of battles.”