This is one in a series of stories celebrating 100 years of the IHSA Boys Golf State Finals. Click here to view the other stories and here to order commemorative 100-year state final gear and pin flags.
State Championship Reflections from Ryan Graff
Ryan Graff won the IHSA Class AA individual state title in 1990 en route to leading the Blue Devils to the Class AA team crown as well. He is now the Vice-President of the First Tee, which promotes life values and healthy choices through golf. Here are his reflections on winning his state title:
Winning the IHSA State High School Boys Golf Championship was a game changer for the trajectory of my future. It opened many new doors for me, including taking college recruiting trips and ultimately attending and graduating from the University of Illinois on a golf scholarship.
There are two vivid memories I have from the IHSA State Tournament…and the two memories are so far apart from each other, separated by exactly one year of time but on the scorecard, they were the difference of only a stroke or two.
The first memory is from 1989 and our team had just lost the State Championship… we finished second and if I recall correctly we lost by only 1 stroke as a team…(It may have been 3-5 strokes, I don’t recall the details only the feeling) It was heartbreaking… we had a team goal the entire season to make it to State and win. We were so close but so distraught that we didn’t win… I vividly remember accepting the 2nd place trophy, and we couldn’t muster a smile for pictures and the feeling of being so dejected.
The second memory is from 1990 and our team had just won the IHSA State Championship. It was a feeling that comes with the profound sense of accomplishment for achieving a long term goal, as a team, as a collective group that had strived together since the previous year’s shortcoming, especially haven come up just short in ‘89. I was fortunate enough to be in a playoff for individual state honors but I was so ecstatic that our team had won, and all I wanted was for the playoff to be over with so I could celebrate with the team. Perhaps being in this state of mind, is what helped me win the playoff as I wasn’t overly nervous but so euphoric that our team had finally won the IHSA State High School Boys Golf Championship.
I recall watching the movie Hoosiers with the team, in a hotel room before State…I think we felt just like the basketball team in the movie, a team from downstate, from a smaller town going up against the bigger, elite schools from greater Chicago area. To be the first boys golf team to win for our school, Quincy Senior High, was something that drove us.
To this day, I keep in touch with a few of my teammates including Chris O’Connell, Tony Carnivale and Andrew Cashman. Whenever we get together, we typically tell a few stories about that year… we had so many great memories from tournament road trips, golf practices and in general time spent together on and off the golf course.