Oakton Owls golfers heading to nationals
(May 1, 2017) Oakton Community College freshmen golfers Stephen Bukielski (Niles, Schaumburg High School) and Chris Blaha (Hoffman Estates, Conant High School) have their eyes on the cups – the ones at the Longbow Golf Course in Mesa, Arizona – when the duo competes in the 2017 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Men’s Golf Championship May 23-26.
“Having two golfers compete in nationals says a lot about their talent and is a huge honor for Oakton’s program. I’m looking forward to seeing them go against the best golfers in the nation,” says Louis Walker, Oakton men’s golf coach.
Bukielski and Blaha will be contending against approximately 300 junior college golfers from around the country at the par-71, 7,050-yard golf course that features emerald fairways, strategic bunkers and a picturesque desert view.
The Owls golfers are poised and looking forward to traveling to the Grand Canyon State.
“It will be a great experience,” Bukielski says. “If I can read the greens well and make my putts, I know I can put together a good run.”
Adds Blaha, “To represent Oakton as a freshman is quite an honor and exciting for me. I'm just going to go out there, enjoy it as much as I can and try to have some fun.”
Coach Walker says the tournament poses certain challenges: “The weather in Arizona will be extremely humid. Also, any course can be tough if you haven’t played on it before. Golf is unlike any other sport because you compete against yourself, and there’s no footage to watch like there is in football or basketball.”
To get ready for the four-day tournament, the Owls and the other competitors will have two practice rounds to familiarize themselves with the course.
“Even with the unknown factors, I have confidence Steve and Chris will be top contenders,” Walker adds.
During the 2017 season, Bukielski and Chris Blaha were named NJCAA Region IV All-Region and Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference All-Conference first teamers.