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Daily Journal
     August 20, 2021      #73-232 KDJ

Inaugural Bill Breeden All-Area Classic 

By Mason Schweizer

ST. ANNE — For about 10 years, Bill Breeden and John Klimchuk discussed and created ideas for an area-wide high school boys golf outing to showcase some of the best talent at the start of the school year.

Breeden, the longtime boys golf coach at Bradley-Bourbonnais, died in 2018, and Klimchuk, his assistant who became his replacement at the helm, decided to put those long-discussed words to paper and, eventually, to tee boxes. 

The Boilermakers and the Kankakee Elks Country Club hosted the inaugural Bill Breeden All-Area Classic on Monday, an 18-hole team and individual tournament that featured 11 schools from Kankakee County and the surrounding area, with Beecher's seniorless squad taking the team trophy and Grant Park sophomore Trey Boecker earning individual medalist honors.

"Bill and I envisioned this thing for many years, and now that it’s finally come to fruition, it was great," Klimchuk said. "It was a day of great gold and great weather, and I think Bill was smiling down on us.

"The young man from Grant Park, Trey Boecker, did a great job, and those gentleman at Beecher were fantastic," he added. "Coach [David] Serafin does a great job, and that young group is going to be formidable for years to come."

Young Bobcats shine

The Bobcats turned heads with a team score of 333, 24 strokes ahead of second-place Peotone (357) and 33 shots ahead of third-place Coal City (366).

Junior Vinny Messana's 78 was the team-best and second on the day to Boecker. He's one of a few returning varsity golfers for Beecher, but despite their decent returning experience, the Bobcats don't have a senior on the varsity roster.

"I feel like everybody knew coming off of last year that we were kind of contenders," Messana said. "I think it was just a good feeling to come out and show them we can play."

Serafin said with a talented bunch that included fellow top-10 finishers Jack Hayhurst (82; third place), Brandon Moffit (84; fifth place) and Jake Graniczny (89, 10th place), it's the work his team has put in since last season ended that has carried more weight than the experience they gained as freshmen and sophomores last year.

"I don’t know that [last fall] helped springboard anything necessarily," Sarafin said. "I think that with the offseason work and the love of the game, we’re at the point now where we’re just trying to get better every day, and it doesn’t matter if it’s during the high school season or not."

From diaper dandy to sophomore sensation

Boecker, who made himself a familiar face at the tops of area leader boards as a freshman last season, showed he also has put in plenty of work during the past year, beating the field by a handful of strokes.

"I was hitting the driver really well today," Boecker said "I hit a lot of greens and made a lot of putts, and that’s what came down to the low score."

Boecker was able to navigate the 18 holes at the Elks without much trouble in just his first appearance at the course, one he thought was more challenging than his sizzling 73 indicated.

"I thought it was pretty challenging," Boecker said. "There were no straight putts out there, and all the greens were pretty elevated, so it was a pretty good challenge."

Remembering a great coach and teacher

Klimchuk -- who, similar to several other coaches, honored Breeden by wearing plaid shorts, something the late coach was known for -- said he and his friend first thought of putting together the event as a way to showcase local golf talent in the area and create a competitive atmosphere for local golfers. He credited the Elks golf course manager Jim Weber with creating a tournament that was worthy of its name.

Klimchuk said it was Breeden's continual desire and willingness to help and connect with the kids he saw every day -- whether in the classroom or on the golf course -- that made him such a great coach.

"He was never stern or never a yeller; he just found ways to connect with kids in different ways and [was] a great communicator," Klimchuk said of his late friend. "He was always very encouraging, and that's beyond stuff with golf but asking how their families were doing or about their grades.

"Bill would get to school every morning around 6:45 to 7, and kids were there getting help from him with school stuff."

Team Results

Beecher (333); Peotone (357); Coal City (366); Kankakee (369); Bradley-Bourbonnais II (378); Grant Park (387); Bishop McNamara (389); Bradley-Bourbonnais I (389); Manteno (395); Reed-Custer (411); Wilmington (NA).

Individual Top 10

Trey Boecker, Grant Park (73); Vinny Messana, Beecher (78); Jack Hayhurst, Beecher (82); Joe Hasse, Peotone (84); Brandon Moffit, Beecher (84); Miles Heflin, Peotone (86); Eamon O'Brien, Bishop McNamara (87); Kaleb Freyman, Bradley-Bourbonnais (88); Dylan Brown, Coal City (89); Jake Graniczny, Beecher (89).

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