EDWARDSVILLE — The Dick Gerber Invitational is always a good late-season measuring stick for area boys' golf teams. If it truly is a precursor, the Edwardsville Tigers and Marquette Catholic Explorers proved their poised for a solid stretch run.
Edwardsville fired a 295 to win the large-school division on Friday at Oak Brook Golf Club, while the Explorers carded a 298 to garner the small-school championship.
It was Marquette's Michael Holtz taking medalist honors, shooting a 68 — 35 on the west nine and 33 on the north.
“I was real confident. I was hitting the ball really well all day,” Holtz said. “My front nine was just struggling putting, nothing would fall for me and I lipped out quite a few times. They started falling for me on the back nine and it went pretty well.”
Eric Bauer, filling in as Marquette coach Pat Moore for the second straight day, was happy to see the performance by the Explorers, especially with the amount of large schools in attendance. Marquette's score was second only to Edwardsville.
“It's very good when you get to play with Edwardsville and hang that close to them,” Bauer said of Marquette trailing by only three strokes on EHS' home course.
For Tiger coach Adam Tyler it was great to come away with a tournament title at home and win a tight battle with the Explorers. Come postseason Marquette will be cast in Class 2A, while Edwardsville will head to 3A and that doesn't bother Tyler.
“They're a really good team and for us to come out here on our home course and defend it and end up getting a win is really good,” Tyler said. “At Mattoon earlier this year with 36 teams they end up getting third and I don't think we were within 25 shots of them. For us to bounce back and get a nice win, even though it was on our home course, was good. The fact that they shot 298 on this course shows how good they are.”
Ben Tyrrell led the Tigers and narrowly missed matching Holtz. Tyrrell carded a 69, shooting 33 and 36. He had six birdies on the afternoon.
He said battling the good small-school programs like Marquette and Columbia is a good barometer for him and the entire EHS squad.
“They're good teams and hopefully in their class they will do good in the postseason,” Tyrrell said. “We'll see how it all pans out. They're good teams and if we can hang with them then we're up there with some of the best teams in the state.”
Holtz admitted he and Tyrrell are forming quite the rivalry on the links.
“He's got me every other time this year, so I finally wanted to get at least one on him,” Holtz said. “I battled back really hard on the back nine. He made it interesting the last two holes, went birdie, birdie and barely missed an eagle putt on 17. It was definitely nervy the last couple holes.”
The rest of Edwardsville's scoring came from: Luke Babington (75), Jon Ratterman (75) and Tanner White (76).
Marquette received its scoring from: Kolten Bauer (75), Nick Messinger (77) and Jack Patterson (78). Awards for low freshman and low sophomore were given out on Friday. Bauer won the low sophomore trophy with his day, giving the Explorers two of the three individual awards.
For the team scores, the large-school division rounded out behind EHS with: O'Fallon (312), Belleville East (316), Collinsville (325), Edwardsville's orange team (334), Belleville West (343), Alton (344) and Granite City (363). The small-school division teams behind Marquette were: Columbia (311), Althoff (319), Centralia (321), Triad (348), Waterloo (349) and Civic Memorial (359).
EHS also entered sophomore Spencer Gillaspie as an individual, shooting 95. Father McGivney's lone golfer, D.J. Villhard, shot 94.
Scoring for the Edwardsville orange squad came from: Colin Loyet (81), Aaron Young (82), Kyle Hylla (85) and Isaac Garrett (86).
Alton coach Zach Deeder was pleased with his team's day. The Redbirds shot their best score in an 18-hole tournament this season on Friday.
The Birds received scoring from: Ryan Boyd (84), Adam Stilts (84), Matt Moore (87) and Dylan Lahue (89). Moore turned in a 37 on the front nine holes.
“This is a good barometer heading into the postseason and this is the best we've played so far this year,” Deeder said. “That's our lowest total score so far. Matt Moore shot an 87 with a 50 on the back nine, so we're getting over the blow up holes that we had and we're getting 9, 10, 11, 12 holes in a row that are good and that's where I'm trying to get with these guys. We can par every hole, just not when the camera's rolling and I think we're getting there.
“I think things are looking pretty good for us compared to the beginning of the season.”
Granite City is trying to find consistency before the postseason hits. The Warriors will have the Southwestern Conference Tournament on Monday at Belk Park Golf Course in Wood River to work on it, along with a few other chances prior to the regional.
On Friday, GCHS got scoring from: Drew Wielgus (87), Riley Brown (89), Cameron Rubenacker (91) and Grant Beanland (96).
“As a team our scores were elevated, we shot a 363, but Riley Brown and Drew had good days,” Granite City head coach Jeff Ridenhour said. “That's a positive and I think if they put it together they might actually get a chance to qualify out of regionals and possibly further if they can put together a good round.
“We have an 18-hole best ball tournament Saturday in Centralia and then conference Monday. It's a couple 18 hole tournaments where they can figure some things out going into the postseason.”
First-year CM head coach Ty Laux was hoping for a slightly better day from his Eagles. After starting strong on the season, Laux admitted they've hit a rough patch and are trying to right the ship for postseason, but believes they'll get there.
CM was led by Will Spencer's 81. The rest of the scoring came from: Tristen Frank (85), Chase Spanhook (93) and Adam Flack (99).
“This definitely gets you ready for the postseason. You see a lot of good competition,” Laux said. “The kids battled today. I thought Will came back and played pretty well on the back and Tristen battled. They shot 81 and 85. It's not quite where we need to be for a regional yet, but they're working hard and today was a good tournament to help us get ready.
“Next week we've got a match at Belk, where the regional is at, and at Spencer, so those should help and then hopefully we get a couple kids out (at regionals).”
The tournament came off without any hitches. Tyler and Doug Wright are working as co-head coaches for the Tigers this season and after years as assistants had to run the large event on Friday.
“There's a little bit more entailed and I'm sure we didn't do everything perfectly being in the first year running it, it's a learning curve,” Tyler said. “But we got it done and we got it done before dark and that's a big plus.”