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Local

Eagles eyeing national tournament berth

IVCC roster full of local talent

Ian Roach uses a wedge on the 18th hole at the Illinois Valley Men's Golf Championship at Senica's Oak Ridge Golf Club on Aug. 2. Roach, a four-time state qualifier and two-time NewsTribune Boys Golfer of the Year at Putnam County, is a freshman and No. 1 golfer for the Eagles.
Ian Roach uses a wedge on the 18th hole at the Illinois Valley Men's Golf Championship at Senica's Oak Ridge Golf Club on Aug. 2. Roach, a four-time state qualifier and two-time NewsTribune Boys Golfer of the Year at Putnam County, is a freshman and No. 1 golfer for the Eagles.

The IVCC men’s golf team roster is made up entirely of local talent.

The Eagles return NJCAA All-Region IV player Clay Wells, a Fieldcrest graduate, while adding four freshmen.

Highlighting the freshman class is Putnam County graduate Ian Roach, a four-time IHSA Class 1A state qualifier and two-time NewsTribune Boys Golfer of the Year.

Also joining the squad this year are Bureau Valley alumnus and Bureau County Republican Boys Golfer of the Year Trent DeVenney, Putnam County graduate and three-time state qualifier Ben Cyr, and 2019 Fieldcrest graduate Nick Mariotti, who qualified for state as a senior.

“I’m excited to get the best local players to come play for IVCC,” third-year IVCC coach Sean Kennedy said. “We have the NewsTrib Player of the Year; Ben Cyr, a three-time state qualifier; a Fieldcrest state qualifier in Nick Mariotti; and the BCR Player of the Year. It’s nice to keep our good, local talent at home at IVCC.”

With so much talent, Kennedy has high hopes for the Eagles this fall, as he’s looking for a top two finish at the Region IV Tournament on Oct. 8-10 at PrairieView Golf Course in Byron to earn a trip to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in Plymouth, Ind., on May 18-21.

“Black Hawk returns everybody. They’ll be strong and easily the favorite to advance,” Kennedy said. “We think we’re right in the mix. This is the third year I’ve been coaching, and our goal this year is to try to get that second qualifying spot and get to the national tournament. Ian and Clay are a terrific 1-2 punch. We think we have a good chance.”

Roach has played in IVCC’s No. 1 spot in its two events so far, with Wells playing No. 2 and Cyr in the No. 3 spot, with the fourth and fifth spots switching between Mariotti and DeVenney.

“Ian is a solid, solid player,” Kennedy said. “He has a lot of competitive junior tournament experience. The expectations are high for him. He drives himself pretty hard. He had a terrific showing at the Illinois Valley Men’s Championship with a top-5 finish. We hope for Ian to qualify for the national tournament if we don’t make it as a team.”

The Eagles have already played one event and are in the midst of their second tournament.

IVCC was declared co-champion of the Heartland Hawk Match Play Championship after the event was rained out midway through the championship round.

The Eagles struggled Wednesday on the first day of the Skyhawk Classic by shooting a 338 in 55-degree, rainy, windy conditions.

“We’re in fourth place going into (Thursday),” Kennedy said. “We shot poorly. The wind did not help us. It’s disappointing but it’s a learning experience. We had a 36-hole day on Tuesday. The kids got home late on the bus and still had to get their homework done and do their laundry. College life is definitely different than high school life. We’ll learn from it.”

The Eagles have eight events left on the schedule.

“Our schedule this year is constricted,” Kennedy said. “We can’t go out of state. We can’t stay overnight in hotels. We do get to play two PGA venues in TPC Deere Run and Cog Hill Dubsdread.

“The golf team is thrilled that (IVCC president) Dr. (Jerry) Corcoran and the college is giving us the opportunity to compete. We’re the only team at IVCC playing this fall. We’re happy (athletic director) Cory (Tomasson) and (athletic administrative assistant) Sue (Harding) are doing all the extra work to give us the chance to compete this fall.”

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