BLOOMINGTON — Even with double bogeys on Nos. 4 and 6, Dallas Koth didn't let himself get discouraged Tuesday in the Intercity Boys Golf Tournament.

"I was hitting the ball well," said the University High School senior. "I just got a couple misses that turned out really bad."

When Koth hit it 10 feet away on the difficult par-3 eighth hole at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course and sank the birdie putt, he was ready to lead U High to its first Intercity title since 2012.

Koth used five birdies in a nine-hole stretch to fire a 1-under-par 71. That gave him medalist honors for the first time and the Pioneers used their depth to fire a 306 total in windy conditions and outdistance runner-up Normal West by 13 strokes.

Central Catholic junior Parker Wisdom and West senior Zach Leffler shot 74s, with Wisdom taking second in a scorecard playoff. Normal Community sophomore Griffin McCluskey was fourth with 75.

NCHS placed third with a 335 total, followed by Central Catholic (337) and Bloomington (341).

Despite having five of its six players returning from last year's Class 2A state champions, U High knew something was missing from its trophy case.

"I talked to the guys about how important Intercity golf is and people remember, just like in all the other sports," said Pioneers coach Darrin York. "It's important to me and the guys. I'm proud of them for showing up today and figuring out how to get it done."

Senior Ben Bazan and sophomore Brevin Knight fired 78s for U High, while senior Tony Palumbo added 79 to the team total. Junior Evan Huynh (80) and senior Alex Kullman (81) would have counted for every other team.

Outside of winning the state individual title, Koth said this was the most important of his four medalist honors so far this year.

"I'm proud of my team, too," he said. "No one higher than 81? It was a grind out there. It was hard to keep all your (hole) scores reasonable. It was definitely tough."

Koth found that out when he got a bad lie in a bunker on the par-3 fourth and another just outside a fairway bunker on No. 6. 

"I wanted it bad enough where I knew I could come back," he said. "I had a couple 73s recently where I started off terribly and came back."

An up-and-down birdie on the par-5 ninth left Koth with a 38 on the front. He sank a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 12 and got to even after chipping close on No. 15.

Koth stuffed a sand wedge within 4 feet on No. 16 and got under-par for the first time. He closed with two pars. 

"He has the ability almost to will it to the point when he needs to make a birdie, he can make a birdie," said York. "Certainly he put a bunch together starting with No. 8. The team effort, all the scores were good."

Wisdom, playing in Koth's group, suffered a triple-bogey 7 at No. 3 when his drive went out-of-bounds and he later 3-putted. But, like Koth, Wisdom didn't panic.

"I told myself just to make pars and if a birdie comes you've got to take it," he said. 

Wisdom played his final 10 holes in 2-under after two-putt birdies on Nos. 9 and 15.

Leffler also began slowly and was 4-over after three holes. But he used three birdies the rest of the way to post his best score of the season.

"I hit 13 of 14 fairways ... today everything was just on," he said. "It's going to give me a lot of confidence for the next big tournament at Lick Creek (in Pekin on Saturday) and then our (Big 12) conference tournament."

West coach Matt Hoder acknowledged that "Zach Leffler really carried us today."

"Overall there's a lot of good things we can take out of it," said Hoder. "We really need that third and fourth score to be much lower. I'm sure we have some guys kicking themselves right now, but overall it was a pretty good day. It's not a terrible number for us."

Follow Jim Benson on Twitter: @Pg_Benson


Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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