Following last year’s sectional golf tournament, Jake Storako made it pretty clear what his intentions were for this season.
“As we were driving home, Jake said he wanted to do two things,” Highland High School coach Chris Bennett said. “He wanted to go back again with his team and he wanted to get out of it and go to the Tournament of Champions.
“The maturity in that comment as a sophomore astounded me. It wasn’t that he wanted it for himself, but with the team. He set that goal and went for it.”
While the Tartans failed to advance out of the South/Central Group 2 sectional at Wildwood Golf & Tennis Club, Storako did. He shot an 82, good for fifth place and a spot in Monday’s TOC at Hopewell Valley Golf Club.
The event is scheduled for an 11 a.m. shotgun start.
“It’s very exciting to have this opportunity,” Storako said. “The way I played, I wasn’t expecting to qualify. I’m going to try my best to win. Whatever happens, happens.
“Over the summer and winter, I put in a lot of work. It’s exciting for me to see all of my hard work is paying off, that I keep getting better. That’s always my goal. To have an opportunity to go this year is a blessing.”
Bennett is ecstatic that his underclassman will represent the program in the biggest event of the season.
“There’s not a better word to use,” Bennett said. “He worked his butt off. He got a little taste of it last year when he qualified for sectionals. His game is solid from tee to green.
“For as good as he is, he works just as hard to get better. There is no kid on the range banging balls more than he is. The rest of the team sometimes just stands and watches him.”
Storako had a decent spring. He won the Camden County Tournament and didn’t post a nine-hole score of higher than 40 during regular-season matches. His play off the tee and with longer irons proved to be his biggest strength.
Storako is one of five South Jersey players to earn a berth as an individual, while four teams will compete for state titles as well as the overall TOC crown.
A three-time sectional winner, David Hicks of Middle Township will be one to watch after shooting a 7-under 64 to win South/Central Group 1. Cory Meyer of Bordentown placed fourth to also qualify.
Justin Murray of Burlington Township and Cumberland’s Mike Raczenbek earned spots by finishing tied for fifth in South/Central Group 3 at Running Deer Golf Club.
Haddonfield and Cinnaminson (Group 1) will compete for the team title, as well as St. Augustine (Non-Public A) and Wildwood Catholic (Non-Public B).
“There will be a lot of real good golfers,” Storako said.
Like many others who will tee it up, Storako has never seen the layout at Hopewell Valley. When he steps on the tee, he’ll only have his own self confidence and skill to rely on.
“We’ll take it one shot at a time and see what it gives me,” he said.
“I’ve been playing well this year and I hope to play well Monday. It’s an awesome feeling knowing that I’ll be representing my school, my teammates and my family.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2432; email@example.com