Courier sports staff
---- — MILAN, Ill. — It's fitting that the last time the Indian Hills golf team celebrated a win was in the fall portion of the season.
On Saturday in Illinois, it didn't feel much different in the middle of April.
In fact, even with a few flakes of snow coming out of the sky, the Warriors were undeterred in their quest to pick up their first spring season win since winning their second-straight national title last year. A final-round 294 Saturday was the lone sub-300 final round at the Augustana Invitational as fourth-ranked (DI) IHCC rallied from a three-shot deficit at the start of the day to beat Illinois Wesleyan by seven with a 593 two-round total
"We've been waiting to click like that all spring. That's what I've been asking for the guys to play like that all along," Indian Hills head golf coach Mike Hagen said. "That's the best round we've played from start to finish since the opening round of the Wichita State Tournament in the fall. We started well. We didn't have too many blemishes in between and we finished strong."
The Warriors were equally well represented on the individual leaderboard with six players placing in the top 11. In fact, the best battle between IHCC and Illinois Wesleyan at the end of Saturday was for the medalist title which ended in a draw between the Warriors William White and the Titans' Gabe Aprati.
Starting the day three shots behind Aprati, White fired a final round 73 on a tough scoring day to catch Aprati with a three-over two-round 147 total. IHCC teammate Connor Peck came within one shot of also gaining a share of the medalist honor, finishing with a final-round even-par 72 and a 148 two-round total.
"We counted everybody in the tournament," Hagen said. "Everybody got to play a part in this win."
The first victory could be a big key to bigger things for the fourth-ranked Warrior golfers, who will next be in action at the Iowa-Kansas Clash in Newton, Kan., next week. Last year, their first spring season victory at Western Illinois led to a season-ending winning streak that culiminated with the Warriors successfully defending their NJCAA Division I National Golf Championship.
"I hope this can be a springboard for us this year," Hagen said. "It's been harder for us to get out as much, so if that breakthrough win comes a week later then last year's did, it makes sence. Hopefully we can just keep getting better from here."
At Pinnacle Country Club
Team scoring — 1. Indian Hills 299-294-593, 2. Illinois Wesleyan 296-304-600, 3. Carthage 313-304-617, 4. Dubuque 319-313-632, 5. Black Hawk 322-311-633, 6. Wheaton 317-323-640, 7. Monmouth College (Ill.) 322-320-642, 8. St. Ambrose 322-321-643, 9. North Park 334-312-646, 10. Elmhurst 332-327-659, 11. Augustana 332-331-663, 12. Clarke 333-337-670, 13. Olivet Nazarene 342-337-679, 14. Iowa Wesleyan 356-331-687, 15. Knox College 407-390-797.
Co-Medalists — William White (IHCC) 74-73-147 and Gabe Aprati (Illinois Wesleyan) 71-76-147.
Runner-up — Connor Peck (IHCC) 76-72-148 and Donnie Langland (Carthage) 77-71-148.
IHCC individuals — T1. White 74-73-147, T3 Peck 76-72-148, T5. Colin Pearson 73-77-150, 8. Mitch Tucker 76-75-151, T9. Ben Ludlam 152.
Other IHCC individuals — T11. Luke Monson 80-74-154, T25. Kevin Workman 76-82-158.