“We're young,” he said, then paused.
“The rest of the team is young. Not me.”
Gillig stood on the wind-whipped fringe of the Legends of Indiana Golf Course, face red from the steamy conditions, contemplating a future beyond high school golf. The senior ended his high school career with Wednesday's 2-under 70 for a 36-hole total of 147, good for a tie for 12th at the state meet.
But his ending suggests a Saint beginning given other four golfers return. Patrick Allgeier (155), Callahan Elzey (155), John Hope (156) and James Wagner (163), along with Gillig, played their way to a seventh team finish with a 613 score. Elzey, Allgeier and Wagner are sophomores. Hope is a junior.
“They've got two to three good years under their belts,” said Gillig, who hopes to walk on at Indiana University. “To make it this far, to get this close to winning the championship, it's great.”
Veteran Dwenger coach Dave Scudder appreciates that potential greatness.
“Hopefully we'll get back here a couple of more years and do a little bit better,” he said.
Dwenger began the day in fourth place, six strokes back of leader Columbus North. But with only Gillig playing under par, the Saints never could make a move. They had a 308 score on Wednesday, three shots worse than Tuesday's opening round despite better conditions.
Columbus North, last year's runner-up and playing five seniors, won with a 591 score. That was 11 strokes better than runner-up Westfield, last year's state champion. It was the second-ranked Bulldogs' first golf state title since 1934. They have finished second a record six times, including twice in the last four years.
Dwenger came into the week ranked sixth. It won the sectional and finished second in the regional to Northwood, which finished 10th at state. Its 305 during Tuesday's hot, blustery conditions gave it a championship chance.
And then the chance disappeared.
“We had too many big numbers,” Scudder said. “We didn't putt very well. We had one four-putt and two or three three-putts.
“Spencer played well, but the rest were struggling all day. I think the fact they were sophomores caught up with them even though they have played a lot of golf. They'd never admit they were nervous, but I think they were. They saw they had a shot at winning. They were only six shots behind at the start of the day. They played in the last group.”
Despite the youth, Dwenger was a top-10 team for most of the season. With four returning players, plus solid young players coming up, the Saints will have a shot at bringing a golf state championship to Fort Wayne for the first time since Northrop did it in 1984.
“Hopefully they learned a lot about what it takes to win,” Scudder said. “You have to stay away from big numbers. That's the key here. If don't make any double bogies, you'll make some birdies.”
It worked for Gillig, who was solid all day.
“It was a little bit easier (Wednesday). The wind wasn't as howling as it was on Tuesday.
“I stayed out of trouble most of the day, which was the key to everything. Putting the ball in the fairing and hitting the greens are the main things you have to do out here. The greens aren't too bad. You can make birdies here and there and go low.
“The best part of my day was from fairway to green. I left a few putts out there I could have made.”
Homestead finished last among the 15 teams with a 658 score. It was led by Nick Myers, who was 60th at 160.
Heritage senior Nick Beinz shot a 5-over 77 on Wednesday and finished at 9-over 153. That was good for 28th. Canterbury freshman Michael Brothers shot a 79 and finished at 11-over 155. He was 40th.
Columbus North teammates Christian Fairbanks and Michael VanDeventer shared medalist honors with 3-under 141 scores. It was the first time in the tournament's 78-year history that teammates had shared the title. Commissioner Bobbie Cox gave them the opportunity to have a playoff, but they declined, saying sharing was fine.
VanDeventer won the mental attitude award.
This will end the Legends of Indiana's 14-year run as state tourney host. Starting next year Prairie View Golf Course in Hamilton County will host the event for the boys and the girls.