A first for Dylan Daxon was linked Monday to a first for his Rockridge boys' golf team.
With the senior finally winning a sectional title, the Rockets did the same, with both dominating the Class 1A Petersburg PORTA meet at a windy and cold Shambolee Golf Course.
With two-time reigning regional champ Daxon finishing 1-2 individually with teammate Chad Nitz, Rockridge (317) won a sectional crown for the first time, bettering runner-up Winchester West Central by 11 strokes.
Now, after 1-under 71, to win by five strokes over Nitz, Daxon heads to state this weekend for the third and last time looking for a couple of other firsts.
``We're definitely one of the top four teams in the state,'' Daxon said while sizing up Rockridge's chances of scoring a state title.
The Rockets, who own state crowns in football (1994), wrestling (1987 & 1990) and softball (2005), have qualified for state golf just once before in 2005.
Daxon, who took third last fall, also is hoping to join 2000 alum Jonas DeWitte among Rockridge's only solo state golf champs.
``I know I'm confident. I know our team's confident. Now that we've won sectionals, anything can happen,'' Daxon said. ``If we continue playing the way we're playing, we can definitely make an impact.''
Daxon and the Rockets won't be alone this weekend in Bloomington/Normal.
Also booking state trips were Daxon's buddy, Alleman's Dan Cutkomp (2A), Western Big 6 Conference rival Will Wallace of Moline (3A), and three more area individuals in 1A play -- Sherrard's Grant Morse, Fulton's Logan Rascher and Morrison's Reid Hoffman.
``We're making those dinner reservations now,'' joked Cutkomp, who has been trading positive affirmations with Daxon all fall. ``We haven't decided yet where we're going, but it's probably going to be some place where we can watch Thursday Night Football.''
State includes 18-hole rounds both Friday and Saturday.
Cutkomp got to Thursday's pre-meet dinner table by firing a 6-over 78 at the 2A Champaign Sectional at the University of Illinois' Orange Course.
The Alleman senior missed a Top 7 medal by a stroke, tying with two others for eight-place overall.
``I started out rough,'' Cutkomp said. ``I was sitting at 41 at the turn. But I kept telling myself, when I look back on this, I don't want to have any regrets, so I gave it my best shot on the back nine, and I played it at 1-over.
``Now I just go play. Of course, it's hard to not think about your chances. But if I take care of what I can, and play the way I know I can, (being in contention at state) will take care of itself.''
Wallace also battled through obstacles to survive the 3A Pekin Sectional at Lick Creek.
The Moline senior earned a seventh-place medal for a 6-over 77.
``His score doesn't show how well he played,'' Moline coach Ryan Sergeant said. ``He had a double (bogey) on a hole everyone birdies to fall to 6-over, with seven holes to go, and then played the toughest part of the course (on the front-side) to 1-over.
``That (double) happens to most anybody else, they just fall apart from there, but not Will, and that's why he's heading to state. He just never lets anything bother him.''
Despite Wallace's gritty round, Moline finished in a tie for sixth as a team with a 333, six strokes from the third and final qualifying score. Big 6 champ Quincy won the meet going away with a 312.
``I'm not disappointed at all,'' Sergeant said. ``Usually when you shoot 333, you're beaten by 20 or more strokes. But we were within six (shots of qualifying). The guys fought hard against a great field. They played as hard as they could in some pretty rough conditions. It just wasn't meant to be.''
Ditto for reigning Three Rivers Conference and regional champion Fulton.
The Steamers finished fourth with a 357 at the 1A Elgin Sectional, nine strokes behind the final qualifying spot at The Golf Club of Illinois.
``It's a bit of a disappointment to us,'' admitted Fulton coach Mark Speir, whose club also posted a 22-1 dual meet record. ``We fully expected to get out even if we were the only ones who thought that way. It's not the happy ending we'd hoped for, but it doesn't take away from the fact we had a great season.''
On the bright side, it's not entirely over after another great postseason round by Rascher (87). Freshman Lucas Wiebenga was a stroke back, and narrowly missed joining him at state, losing out on a seven-man playoff for the final qualifying spot.
Wiebenga was eliminated with four others by missing a putt on the first playoff hole.
``This was his first sectional, and first playoff of any kind, and he had to tee off first,'' Speir said. ``He stepped up and drove it right down the middle. Anything after that was extra, I was so proud of him. He really relished the experience.''