Mac McClure will gladly sacrifice his individual golf game for his beloved Hinsdale Central boys team.
“It’s an honor to be a part of such a great program,” McClure said. “Most of all, I want to make sure the team wins.”
The Red Devils’ senior, who has verbally committed to continuing his career at Iowa, was the low man for the latest Hinsdale Central effort of matching the extraordinary achievement of storied downstate power Normal U-High.
McClure fashioned a two-day total of 1-over par 145 — a fifth-place tie – last October at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington to help the Red Devils ease past Lake Forest 593-595 for a sixth consecutive Class 3A state championship.
Normal U-High holds the state benchmark for state titles in the sport with seven in succession from 2003 to 2009.
“We are aware [of the U-High record] and gunning for it, for sure,” said Hinsdale Central senior Josh Lundmark, who joined McClure in all-state circles last fall with his tie for eighth. “It’s pretty good motivation for seven and eight. We’re looking for eight, trying to break the record.”
Hinsdale Central coach Jess Krueger, who has guided the program to eight consecutive state appearances, refused to look terribly far ahead.
“They’re aware of it,” Krueger said of his players’ grasp of history, “but we don’t talk about it. We don’t dwell on it. The way the team has gone for years is a day at a time, a season at a time, get down to state and see what we can do.”
But Hinsdale Central will clearly have the state focus in the sport.
In addition to McClue and Lundmark, Hinsdale Central has three other returning starters from its six-man state crew in senior Gabe Larsen and juniors Stewart Leigh and Jack Bartuch.
McClure has visions to take a page from the playbook of current Illinois sophomore Brendan O’Reilly.
Two years ago, O’Reilly won the individual state championship by five strokes in guiding the Red Devils to a fifth straight team title.
“I want to win state as an individual and a team,” McClure said. “That’s always a goal: to win every tournament I play in. We put in a lot of hard work — and it pays off.”
Lundmark said O’Reilly was an iconic upperclassman for his younger teammates.
“He created a team atmosphere and liked to win,” Lundmark said.
Krueger could not agree more to the seeds of the Red Devils’ state hegemony in the past half-dozen years.
“The older guys have been setting the example,” Krueger said. “That has helped perpetuate the whole thing. [I am] blessed to have the talent and blessed to have the work ethic these guys have had.”
In fundamental respects, the prep golf season defies the traditional school year as the summer months offer an ultimate barometer for teenage excellence with its plethora of high-profile tournaments.
“I haven’t been playing great this summer,” McClure said of his June and July regimen. “I hope to be peaking at the right time. I seem to be trending in that direction.”
Krueger is equally frank in equating the Red Devils’ success in the day-in and day-out competition the West Suburban Silver offers.
“You have to put Hinsdale [Central] in a different zip code,” Lyons Township coach Brian Kopecky said. “It’s unbelievable what they have done [during their state run].”
York, a returning sectional team qualifier, also returns five starters; Downers Grove North is ever dangerous.
“I don’t look too far ahead and don’t look behind,” Krueger said of his philosophy.
But he had a prediction for the upcoming battle royale in the Silver.
“It will be Downers North, York and me,” Krueger said.