Alleman golfer Dylan Cervantes had a solid senior season, finishing second in the Western Big Six for the second straight year and leading Alleman to its second conference title in a row.

He also took second in the Class 2A regional and earned back-to-back trips to state. But it’s safe to say his 55th-place finish at Weibring Golf Club in Normal was not the dream ending he was hoping for.

After a first-round 79, his final day score of 85 took him from contention for all-state honors to a 164 two-day total that put him 17 strokes behind the Class 2A state champion.

“He was certainly a better player than he showed,” Alleman coach Gene Elsner said.

Cervantes was plenty determined to prove it.

Instead of taking it easy over the holidays, he went down to Florida and played a couple of events on the Hurricane Junior Tour, a nationwide tour he had played on for several years during the offseason. A 12th-place finish there helped rekindle interest in him.

Soon he will be returning a letter of intent to Western Illinois University, where he will receive a partial golf scholarship.

“I was very thrilled,” Cervantes said.

He credits the Hurricane Junior Tour, which has an April date this year at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Cervantes’ home course.

It caps quite a comeback for a golfer who had a root canal infection derail his chances last summer to participate on the Hurricane Junior Tour, where in the past he’s earned a second-place finish in a Chicago event, a third in the St. Louis area and another third in Ohio.

The antibiotic he had to take to get rid of the infection in his cheek bone was inserted via a PIC line under his armpit, meaning he could not do a full golf swing last summer or really play golf, other than practice chip shots and putting. That turned out to actually be a blessing, he said, as he improved in those areas to complement his long game.

“It taught me that you have to hit many reps of whatever it is (you’re practicing) in golf,” he said.

Now, next year, he plans to compete against Division I golfers for Western.

“It means a lot to me,” he said.