As a sophomore, Thomas Hereau was the sixth-man on a boys basketball team from tiny Scales Mound that attracted state-wide attention by finishing third in the state despite having only 70 students in four grades.
As a junior. Hereau was the leading scorer and rebounder for a team that took second in the state despite graduating all five starters the previous year.
As a senior, Hereau is a state champion.
For River Ridge (the school Scales Mound co-ops with in every sport except basketball).
Hereau was dominant all year. He won regionals with a 69, two strokes ahead of Rockford Lutheran star Jake Guse, who finished fourth in Class 1A the year before. He was second behind Guse with a 73 at sectionals and then won the Class 1A state title by two strokes, shooting 70-73—143 at Prairie Vista in Bloomington.
Hereau led by two strokes after the opening round and by three with nine holes to play before finding himself trailing by one heading into the final three holes. He then drew on his basketball experience, including when the All-State guard scored 24 points and made 5 or 7 3-point shots in the state title game.
“Being in the situations with basketball at state helped me be cool,” Hereau said. “When I got upset with myself, it could have gone way downhill, but I am glad it went the way it did.”
The main reasons things seldom go downhill on the golf course for Thomas Hereau is what he does with a putter in his hands.
“Putting can help everything,” he said. “I put a lot of time into putting.”
That’s probably the most boring part of a golf game to work on.
“It definitely is the least fun, but I always remember it is the biggest part of the game,” Hereau said. “You can be anywhere on the course, but as long as you get on the green you can make it with one putt. There are guys who will four-putt and break their round. When I am on the green, I have to make it.
“Even though it’s super boring, it helps so much. And I love golf so much it’s not THAT boring. It’s not as fun as hitting a drive, but whatever.”
Herea has been golfing even longer than he has been playing basketball. “My dad always had me out playing golf, since I was 5,” he said. He juggles the two sports by playing them both every day when he can. “Ill play golf in the morning and basketball at night. Or the other way around.”
He doesn’t know where he will go to college yet, but he has an NCAA Division I golf scholarship offer from Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, where former Boylan golfers TJ Baker, Danny Gorman and Kyle Slattery have all earned all-league honors in the Ohio Valley Conference. Gorman and Baker were also state high school champs.
Here are the other five members of our 2023 Rockford all-area boys golf team, with players listed in alphabetical order:
Dietrich Bethge, Chrisitan Life
Bethge, a senior, shot 74 to tie Big Northern champ Joey Luna for fourth in a stacked regional that also included eventual state champ Thomas Herau of River Ridge and two-time state medalist Jake Guse of Lutheran. He also tied for fourth at sectionals with a 77. He shot 87-83—170 to finish 65th in Class 1A.
Cole Beto, Boylan
Beto had the lowest nine-hole scoring average (38.8) in the NIC-10 and also won the NIC-10 title with a two-round score of 152. The sophomore then won Class 2A regionals with a 77, shot 77 again at sectional and finished 43rd at state, shooting 84-78-162.
Jake Guse, Rockford Lutheran
Guse, a junior, beat eventual state champion Thomas Hereau by two strokes to win the Class 1A sectional title with a 71 and finished second to Hereau with a 71 at regionals. He shot 75-75—150 to place seventh at state after taking fourth as a sophomore.
Aaron Lorenz, Byron
Lorenz shot 73 at conference, two strokes out of first place, to help Byron win the Big Northern title. He then won the Class 2A regional title by three strokes with a 70 to help Byron win the team title in its first year bumped up to 2A. He again led Byron at sectionals with a 75, helping the Tigers advance to state as a team. The senior again led Byron at state, shooting 77-81—158 to take 30th.
Joey Luna, Rockford Lutheran
Luna, one of three star juniors who have started since they were freshmen for Lutheran, won the Big Northern title with a 73. He then finished fourth at regionals with a 74, shot an 81, tied for second on the team, when Lutheran won sectionals and finished 34th in Class 1A, shooting 79-83—162 at state.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, @matttrowbridge or 815-987-1383. Matt Trowbridge has covered sports for the Rockford Register Star for over 30 years, after previous stints in North Dakota, Delaware, Vermont and Iowa City.
This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Here is the Rockford-area boys golfer of the year and top six players