Photo by Bill Roseberry
The Marquette Catholic boys’ golf team poses with their small school title at the Madison County Tournament on Aug. 21 at Gateway National Golf Links in Madison. The Explorers are looking to do some damage as the postseason begins on Tuesday.
It doesn’t seem possible, but the prep golf postseason is here.
River Bend area teams are ready to ratchet it up for boys’ and girls’ regionals on the links.
On the boys’ side, Alton finds itself with the rest of the Southwestern Conference and Quincy at Clinton Hill Country Club in Swansea for the Class 3A Belleville East Regional on Tuesday. It will be a tough go for the Redbirds to get out as a team, but three programs and 10 individuals advance to sectionals, so a good round from someone like Alex Rubin, Andrew Campbell or Nick Jamison could qualify them.
East Alton-Wood River will be at Arlington Greens in Collinsville on Tuesday for the Class 1A Metro East Lutheran Regional. The Oilers have a good shot at one of the three advancing slots, led by Drew Sobol and Brett Gaines. The Oilers boast a recent big win over Marquette Catholic to give them confidence entering the postseason.
The other three local boys’ programs will be battling each other, as the Roxana Shells welcome Marquette, Civic Memorial and seven other teams to Wood River’s Belk Park Golf Course for the Class 2A Roxana Regional on Tuesday.
The Explorers have youth, talent and depth on their side. Losses to EA-WR and CM late in the regular season left blemishes on a shot at an undefeated duals record, but head coach Pat Moore isn’t too worried entering the regionals.
“We’re really concentrating on consistency right now,” Moore said. “The kids are poised right now. They’ve got great confidence and they’ve shown they can play well at Belk. They’re excited to play a local course for the first round of the postseason. Consistency is going to carry us a long way, along with depth.”
Marquette is led by a pair of sophomores in Michael Holtz and Nick Messinger and a trio of seniors in Andrew McCluskey, Max Goepel and Stephen Elliott. Aspirations are high.
“Depth is what carries teams throughout the whole postseason,” Moore said. “That’s what we’re looking for and I think we do have the depth. If a certain player may falter, we’ve got some backup guys out there that can keep shooting good scores to advance us to the next round.”
Longtime CM head coach Steve Carey is stoked to see what his Eagles can do. They are looking to advance to the sectionals for the first time in school history. Led by J. Ryan Waters, Alec Hilliard and Eric Howes, Carey thinks getting out of the regional is a great possibility. Unlike Moore, though, he admits depth isn’t a luxury for the Eagles.
“I think Marquette and Greenville will be two of the better teams there and we hope to be one of those (top three teams),” Carey said. “We’ve never won a regional and have never advanced as a team out of a regional, so just having the opportunity to advance if we play well is something special for us.
“As far as competing with Marquette, we did beat them by three strokes at Spencer T., but overall their depth is a little bit deeper than ours. They can get something out of that five and six player and that’s something we haven’t been able to put on the board this year. If they play well and we play well, then typically they’re going to win, but that’s the nature of the game.”
Roxana head coach Jeff Pare thinks his team’s shot of advancing is slim, but individuals getting out is possible. Pare believes Zack Moore could nab medalist honors. Moore did medal at the Hickory Stick Invite at Belk early in the year, while Marquette earned the team title.
“Our guys are going to have to play super well to sneak out there,” Pare said. “I’m looking for (Moore) to possibly win the tournament and I think there’s a good chance (Zack Carlisle) could make it out if he holds it together.”
Pare praised the staff at Belk and admitted he hopes the course can become an annual playoff site for local teams.
“It’s a good tournament golf course for high school kids,” Pare said.
On the girls’ side, Marquette, CM and Roxana all will meet together in the Class A Marquette Regional at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course on Oct. 8. The format is the same with three teams advancing and 10 individuals. There will be 12 teams competing in the tournament.
Alton will play in the Class AA Springfield Regional at Lincoln Greens Golf Course in Springfield. The rest of the SWC heads to the Carbondale Regional, so it’s a little different for the Redbirds, who will be less familiar with their opponents.
Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin and Pekin look to be the biggest competition for AHS.
“We’re always excited to go up and play a Pekin and a Sacred Heart,” Alton coach Carey Cappel said. “It’s a test for our ability and they’re really good teams, so we’re excited to see how we can match up with them.”
The Redbirds are guided by the trio of Tori Hays, Natalie Long and Courtney Hachmann. As of late the three have rotated as the low scorer for Alton; that balance excites Cappel entering the postseason.
“As far as the top three go, I’m excited to see these girls taking turns at medalist honors,” Cappel said. “It’s good for our team and it keeps everybody on their toes and it keeps them better. Our No. 4 Ashley Orr has been consistent all year in the mid to low 40s (in nine hole matches) and Samantha Patton has gotten hot the last couple of matches and our freshman (Morgan Bemis) has come in and been shooting high 40s and low 50s the last few matches, so I feel like we have the depth.”
AHS has experience at Lincoln Greens, playing there in regionals in 2011 with Hays advancing as an individual to the sectional.