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Boys Golf: Short game propels Raghav Cherala

St. Charles East's Luke Molloy watches his tee shot Monday during Class 3A Naperville Central Sectional Springbrook Golf Course. |

St. Charles East's Luke Molloy watches his tee shot Monday during the Class 3A Naperville Central Sectional at Springbrook Golf Course. | | Jon Langham/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 14, 2013 11:54PM

St. Charles North senior Raghav Cherala couldn’t have finished his final sectional appearance off better than he did Monday.

At the Class 3A Naperville Central Sectional at Springbrook, Cherala pitched in for birdie from behind the green to cap off his round and send up a loud cheer from the crowd gathered around the ninth hole, his last hole of the day. That gave him a 76, and then he had to wait for a couple of hours for the rest of the field to finish to see if that would be enough for him to advance to state for the first time.

As it turned out, it was the finale that punched his ticket to Bloomington.

“When that thing went in, I was thrilled for him,” North Stars coach Rob Prentiss said. “I’m thrilled for our program. You ask the coaches in the (Upstate Eight River) that know Raghav, they couldn’t be more pleased. He had a lot of people wishing him well today.”

Cherala was 5-over heading into his final hole after just missing a chance for birdie on the eighth. After a good drive, Cherala took the scenic route to birdie.

“My second shot, I guess it was just adrenaline, I just blasted it past (the green),” Cherala said. “I was walking up and I thought, this is a tough up-and-down. It was on a downslope. I hit a pitch, let it land softly and just roll out. I just picked out a spot and I hit it and it went in. It was pretty cool.”

As a team, North finished sixth with a 322. Matt Samuelson was second on the team behind Cherala with a 79.

“We knew it would be a tall order, but I’m really proud of the way we played today,” Prentiss said.

St. Charles East was in position to reach up and snag the third and final team qualifying slot with a few holes to go, but the Saints couldn’t finish it off. They shot a 317 to fall six strokes behind Benet for that honor. Also, junior Gary King and senior Connor McAdam, who each shot 77s, found themselves in a five-man playoff for the final individual qualifying spot. Waubonsie Valley’s Jason Marrs won that on the first playoff hole, leaving the Saints with no state qualifiers.

“With three holes to go, we were right where we needed to be, and we missed by six shots,” St. Charles East coach John Stock said. “We needed to play just a shade better the last three holes. It was a good day. They gave it their all, nothing to be ashamed of. We were regional champs. We were in the hunt all day.”

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