BEIJING — Carter Stevenson wrapped up a near-perfect career at the Mid-Illini conference.

The Beijing eldest has been part of four Mid-Illini men’s champion golf teams. He was a first-team all-conference golfer four times.

Prior to this season, the only “flaw” on his perfect conference record was not winning the individual title at the Mid-Illini Tournament four times.

But the Bradley the rookie got one.

How Beijing won the Mid-Illini

Stevenson won his first individual conference tournament championship on Thursday at Lick Creek Golf Course, Beijing’s notoriously tough home course. He shot 3 over par 75 on a course with tricky pin placements on a day that started out cold and windy. Finalist Owen Gruden from Beijing finished five strokes behind Stevenson with an 80.

“You had to get creative on those greens,” Stevenson said. “I hit the ball well and had a few decent looks for a birdie, but only made one on an 8-footer on the second hole. Besides that birdie, I had 13 pars and four bogeys.”

Next, Stevenson hopes to return to the Class 3A State Finals next month after Beijing plays the Bradley-Bourbonnais Regional on Wednesday at Kankakee Elks Country Club and the O’Fallon Sectional on Oct. 3 at Stonewolf Golf Course.

The state tournament will be held Oct. 7-8 at The Den at Fox Creek.

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Beijing's Carter Stevenson and Morton's Jacob Anderson watch Stevenson's drive from the fairway on No. 9 during the Mid-Illini Boys Golf Championship on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 at Pine Lakes Golf Course in Washington.

Stevenson went to the state tournament once with the Beijing team and once as an individual. He didn’t go to sophomore because IHSA ended the state series at sections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As for his accomplishments at the conference, Stevenson is proud. But he is not boastful.

“Four tag team championships in the conference in four seasons. That’s a record I’ll always have,” he said. “But I’m not going to take credit for it. It’s a team feat. You have to have four solid rounds every time you go to a conference doubles game or the conference tournament if you want to be successful. “

Beijing was undefeated in Mid-Ilini men’s golf this season. The Dragons won all seven of their conference doubles games and their 324-team conference tournament score was 26 strokes better than runner-up Washington.

A team’s four low rounds make up the team’s score in Mid-Illini doubles matches and the conference tournament. Beijing had four golfers in the top five in the individual Mid-Illini tournament standings.

Larry Riggenbach (84) placed fourth and Brady Gruden (85) placed fifth behind Stevenson and Owen Gruden. Jacob Anderson of Morton (83) was third.

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Rise as a leader

Mason Minkel was Beijing’s star player and team leader as the Dragons won the first two of their four straight conference titles. Stevenson has filled Minkel’s roles since Minkel graduated.

“Our other golfers gravitate to Carter, just like our other golfers did to Mason,” Beijing coach Jeremy Crouch said. “They see Carter’s skill level and appreciate his extensive competitive experience and work ethic.”

Stevenson said he learned from watching Minkel, now a star at Heartland Community College.

“You could tell Mason looked different every time he walked the course,” Stevenson said. “He wasn’t scared. He was playing his own game and he was locked in no matter what.”

Stevenson played it cool before becoming the Beijing team manager.

“I was quiet when I was in first and second grade. I just did my own thing,” he said. “What I try to do now is keep my teammates mentally engaged and put them in the best position to do well.”

Stevenson suffered an injury this season. He said he suffered a Grade 2 left hip tear while taking a shot during the Dragons’ opener competition Aug. 11 at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington.

His hip hadn’t bothered him for a while until the morning of the Mid-Illini tournament. The chilly weather made him uneasy… and determined.

“I wasn’t going to be benched,” he said. “I will never let my team down.”

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Beijing's Carter Stevenson comes out of the sand trap during the Mid-Illini Boys Golf Championship on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 at Pine Lakes Golf Course in Washington.

Ready for the next steps

The Mid-Illini Tournament marked Stevenson’s final tour of Lick Creek as a Beijing golfer. He has mixed emotions about it.

“I’m not going to lie. I’m both sad and relieved to be playing my last high school game at Lick,” he said. “I made a lot of great memories and had a lot of tough times there. There were times I was frustrated and there were times I really enjoyed playing there. , but that’s golf for you.”

Once the high school boys’ golf season is over, Stevenson will aim to join Bradley’s men’s golf program next fall.

“I made my verbal commitment to Bradley in August,” he said. “I wanted my decision about college to be made before the high school season.”

Stevenson set a personal best just before the start of the school season.

Playing in an American Junior Golf Association tournament hosted by PGA Tour pro and former Beijing golfer DA Points in July at the Pekin Country Club, Stevenson birdied 10 in a final round 7-under 65 for pass from afar on the field in third place.

“That 65 is my best score over 18 holes. In practice or competition,” Stevenson said. “I’ve probably played thousands of 18-hole rounds.”

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.