Dylan Cervantes had a good feeling the day he tied Alleman’s school record for nine holes with a 32. He pretty much envisioned it while in class and even wrote it down. In his premonition, though, he broke the record.
“I was a little disappointed,” he said of the 32 on the par-35 front nine at Indian Bluff Golf Course against Galesburg last week. He was 3-under heading into the par 4 ninth hole, which plays nicely for his short game. He didn’t quite stick his wedge like he expected. “I just tied it. It was weird.”
The humble, soft-spoken Cervantes is the kind of kid who goes out of his way to shake a reporter’s hand and thank them for interviewing him. But before the year is over he could be known as the top Illinois Quad-City prep golfer. He already is the top golfer on what could be the top golf team in the Illinois Quad-Cities.
“The sky’s the limit,” Alleman coach Gene Elsner said of the senior. “He’s the whole package. You have kids that have really solid long game and struggle a little bit with the short game. You have kids who have an OK long game but their short game brings them around. But Dylan has the entire package. He’s got a solid long game and an outstanding short game.”
A key to his short game was an infection he had after his wisdom teeth were taken out last spring. He had to have a PICC line put in his upper arm to give him antibiotics and could not swing a golf club. So all he did was work on his short game for about six weeks. He would putt and chip for hours.
“It was probably like a blessing in disguise because it really improved my short game,” Cervantes said.
Cervantes is a worker at his craft.
“He practices harder than anybody I have ever seen,” Elsner said.
Cervantes even brings back drills to share with his teammates from camps he attended in Florida and North Carolina.
After winning the Western Big Six for the first time in school history last year, and finishing third in Class A at state, the Pioneers haven’t picked up where they left off, according to Elsner. They’ve taken another step.
Alleman is 6-0 overall, with the only blemish, if you want to call it that, a fourth-place finish in the 18-team Peoria Notre Dame Invitational to open the season in mid-August. What makes the Pioneers record impressive is the fact that they have already beaten perennial Big Six power Galesburg twice, and also beaten the other Big Six major foe, Quincy, as well as Moline.
Numbers back up up Elsner’s belief. A year ago their best team score for 18 holes was 307 for the top four scorers. This year, they have already shot 304 twice. A year ago, the closest they got to sub-150 was 155 for nine holes. This year they have already hit 148 and 144. And the season has a long way to go.
“I think we were a year away last year, and last year’s team overachieved,” Elsner said. But he always figured this would be the year. “I am not at all surprised."
Cervantes is clearly the leader of the pack. It’s not just because he tied a school record, set by Clay Lee in 1994 and tied four times by Peter Callas from 2007-2010.
“He’s got the best rounds across the board,” Elsner said, leading the way four out of six times. Fellow senior Conner Boyd was medalist twice.
Two sophomores, Ryan Rochholz and Gabe Beardsley, are followed by senior Jordan Copeland in the No. 5 position. Vying for the No. 6 position in what is a bit of a revolving door are three players — junior Hunter Love, sophomore Cole Ramsey and senior Peyton Tanghe.
To Cervantes, the hot start only means “to try to stay positive and don’t get too big headed.”
Tough test for soccer teams: The Midwest Classic in Quincy left the three Western Big Six teams 1-6-2 overall while facing two Missouri teams and Stagg High School.
The best Moline or Rock Island could do was the Maroons mustering a 1-1 tie with Stagg. Each only scored one goal in three games. The Rocks went 0-3. Moline went 0-2-1.
It could be the toughest competition they face all year, though, Moline coach Rich Sanchez said.
“We were certainly exposed to some very high levels of soccer this weekend,” Sanchez said. “Hopefully, we take from that and learn from it.”