GODFREY — The rivalry between Marquette Catholic and Alton High has been lopsided in recent history, but that doesn't mean it's not circled on the schedule as an important date.
Wednesday at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey the Explorers fired a 150 to breeze by the Redbirds (185) for bragging rights. Last season they topped the Birds 151 to 172 at Rock Spring Golf Course.
Senior Nick Messinger of Marquette led the field, carding a par-36.
“Just being the old crosstown rivalry that's always awesome,” Marquette head coach Pat Moore said. “When you have two schools in one town it's pretty cool to be able to play each other. You've got to have that town rivalry because it's fun. The kids get up for it. Yeah, the (Alton) squad may not be what it used to be, but Zach Deeder is one of my best friends for many years now — he was in my wedding — and I know he's great for that program. They're going in the right direction, it just takes time.”
Deeder, at the helm of the Alton program for the third season, has a young squad in 2016 and they are learning on the fly. He admitted facing a team the caliber of the Explorers is good for the growing process.
“I had three freshmen tonight and one sophomore,” Deeder said. “They haven't seen courses that we've been to so there's a lot of adjusting to nerves and spectators.
“My kids asked me a lot of questions (about Marquette). 'How does that kid do that?' The answer is always the same. 'He practices constantly.' What we really see is the results of not only constant practice, but effective practice. We're trying to incorporate that into ourselves. These (Explorers) started when they were really young and some of my guys are starting now.”
Messinger said it was nice to be back on the friendly confines of his home course at Rolling Hills. On Tuesday Marquette battled Edwardsville at Fox Creek Golf Course in Edwardsville and found it to be quite challenging. The Explorers fell 155 to 163 to the Tigers.
“There's definitely a big difference,” Messinger said. “Fox Creek is a lot more narrow. Out here you kind of get away with some shots and Fox Creek you've got to be able to hit the ball pretty straight. Good course management is key at Fox and out here we all know it and you can get away with some stuff.”
Joining Messinger in the team scoring for the Explorers on Wednesday were: Duncan McLain (37), Michael Holtz (38) and Jack Patterson (39). The rest of the lineup rounded out with: Sam Cogan (43) and Jack Warren (43).
Moore was pleased with Messinger's medalist performance. Marquette improved to 6-1 in dual action with the victory.
“He's in a good spot right now. I know he's not in the spot where he's striving to be, but he's about to get over that next hump,” Moore said. “He's improved drastically from junior to senior year. He'd put up that even par score, but sometimes you'd get a 41 or a 42. Nowadays, 40 is the highest and that's a bad, bad day.”
The Birds were paced by Ryan Boyd, Dylan Lahue and Brayden Haug all with 46s. Matt Moore Jr. and Dawson Gurley completed the scoring, each with a 47.
The rest of the lineup for AHS included: Dalton Lahue (52), Tysen Barton (57) and Tyler Hazelwood (67).
“I expected more out of these guys tonight,” Deeder said. “We had a lot of penalty strokes, that's what got us. We had some shanks going on. Our low being a 46, that's off of what we need to be doing. You should be able to shoot 40 or better at a course like Rolling Hills. The course didn't beat us tonight, we beat ourselves.”
No matter what, Messinger said it's fun to play Alton. The players know each other and the bragging rights are important.
“We always look forward to playing them,” Messinger said. “We like to do it for bragging rights and it's fun to get more matches in against teams like Alton.”