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Boys Golf: Oswego East's Gavin Hjelle clutch when it counts, shoots low round at conference meet

Wolves second to Plainfield North in team standings; Yorkville third, Oswego fourth

YORKVILLE – Gavin Hjelle whiffed on a left-handed swing from the trees in an unlucky 13th hole Tuesday.

But he connected when it mattered.

Hjelle, an Oswego East junior, knocked in a 20-foot birdie from off the green on the final hole at Whitetail Ridge Golf Course.

His second straight finishing birdie wrapped up a 1-under par 70, as Hjelle rallied for a two-shot win over defending conference champion Luke Petrovic of Minooka at the Southwest Prairie Conference meet.

"I knew I had to make birdie or something to beat him," Hjelle said. "It feels good."

It continues a banner season for the Oswego East program.

The Wolves were unbeaten in duals this season before being edged by three shots last week by Plainfield North at Fox Bend.

Plainfield, with four scores in the 70s Tuesday, took the team title with a 306, with Oswego East second (324), Yorkville third (330) and Oswego fourth (335).

Oswego East coach Jim Vera was hardly surprised at Hjelle's round.

"This is kind of what we knew Gavin to be," Vera said. "I'm happy for him. He puts in the time. To be the conference champ, that was one of his goals. He's always wanted to be near the top, he got to play with the best in the conference and did a great job."

Hjelle, seventh in the conference point leaderboard going into Tuesday, said he knew he had a chance Tuesday if he put in a good round. The day started in cold conditions, but Hjelle said he played better as the day warmed.

He overcame the double bogey on No. 13 with a clutch finish. On the 17th hole Hjelle stuck the approach and made a 15 or 20-foot putt for birdie, then hit driver and 7-iron on No. 18 to set up his birdie finish. Petrovic, leading by a shot going into No. 18, hit his drive into the trees and made a double bogey.

"It feels good," said Hjelle, all-conference for the third time. "Unfortunately we couldn't do it as a team but hopefully we can do it at regionals. This gives me a lot of confidence. Blackberry Oaks [where regionals is at], the last time I was there I shot 2-under, I know the course like the back of my hand."

Yorkville brothers Ryan and Jonathan Waugh continued consistent seasons with top five finishes Tuesday.

Ryan Waugh shot a 74 for fourth place, and an overall third-place finish. Jonathan Waugh shot a 75 to tie for fifth place, and took second place for the season behind conference MVP Petrovic.

"I think I played OK," Ryan Waugh said. "I made every single green on the back nine which I liked. I think as a team we could have done better, but it's alright. It's a good tuneup. We got to play a different course in colder conditions, which is good practice for next week. We feel pretty confident."

Oswego, last year's conference champion, was paced by Jack Rimington's round of 77 which was good for eighth place.

"And he could have been even lower than that. He had a three-putt on 18 which hurt him, but he played well today," Oswego coach Chad Pohlmann said. "We just couldn't get that other low score. It's tough, Plainfield North has just been tremendous all year long. It would have taken a career day to beat them, but I thought our guys competed hard in tough conditions."

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