One Pekin golfer will compete Friday in the Class 3A boys state tournament at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.
Mason Minkel, Theleritis’ teammate, fellow sophomore, and one of the area’s top golfers, came within a stroke of making the state tournament cut Monday at the Jacksonville Sectional at Sunset Hills Country Club.
Theleritis shot 80 at Sunset Hills on a windy day. He was one of the top 10 individuals not on a state tournament qualifying team. Minkel shot 81.
“Cooper had a bounce to his step when he leaving the driving range (Monday) before his round,” said Pekin coach Jeremy Crouch. “Then he went out and stayed level-headed, playing each hole shot by shot.
“He’s been playing well for about three weeks after he had a rough patch.”
Theleritis posted one of Pekin’s four counting scores at the Bradley-Bourbonnais Regional at Kankakee Elks Country Club. He had an 86, helping the Dragons qualify for sectionals as a team.
“Cooper made a huge par-saving putt on No. 18 at Kankakee Elks when we were battling for third place (the final team berth for sectionals),” Crouch said.
This will be Theleritis’ second trip to the state tournament. Pekin qualified for state as a team last year when the tournament also was played at The Den at Fox Creek.
“Cooper is going to state this time with a lot of confidence because he played there last year,” Crouch said. “He had a rough first round last year, but he played better in the second round. He wants to embrace the moment and enjoy the day this year, like he did the second day last year.”
There’s no guarantee Theleritis will play Saturday because there will be a cut at the state tournament for the first time. For individuals, only the top 24 not on the top eight teams will compete Saturday.
Crouch said Minkel, the Mid-Illini Conference tournament runner-up and regional medalist, was “really bummed” about having his season end at sectionals. The coach is confident Minkel will bounce back.
“Mason is a resilient kid,” Crouch said. “He’s been very supportive of Cooper, which says a lot about him.”
Crouch said Minkel was plagued by bad fortune at the sectional.
“Five or six of his putts lipped out. They wouldn’t fall after getting a lot of the hole,” Crouch said. “On the 17th hole, Mason’s shot went out of bounds by two inches and he took a double-bogey.”
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.