Photo by Bill Roseberry
The Marquette Explorers pose with their Madison County Tournament individual and team awards on Aug. 20 at Gateway National Golf Links in Madison. From left to right are: Kolten Bauer, Jack Patterson, Nick Messinger, Sam Cogan, Michael Holtz, Duncan McLain and head coach Pat Moore.
It’s just two weeks into the prep golf season and the Marquette Catholic boys’ team is already causing plenty of commotion.
Two tournaments, two championships. The Explorers are on target.
They shot a 311 score to win the season-opening Hickory Stick Invitational Aug. 17 at the Belk Park Golf Course in Wood River. Then the Explorers carded a 308 score three days later for the top total in the Madison County Tournament at the Gateway National Course in Madison.
The MadCo win was particularly gratifying. Not only did Marquette reign as the small-school champ, but the Explorers outdid Edwardsville, which recorded a 312 score for the large-school title.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting season and a great one,” fourth-year Marquette coach Pat Moore said. “We don’t have a senior on the team, but these kids are so wise beyond their years.”
Winning is nothing new for the Explorers. They have compiled a 71-6 dual record during Moore’s first three seasons and the 2012 team finished fourth in the Class 1A IHSA finals.
Former boys’ coach Jerry Montague had Marquette humming before Moore — a standout player at the school — gained control of the program. Montague’s teams boasted a 302-74 dual record from 1997-2009.
This year, the Explorers are cast in rugged Class 2A competition. Nevertheless, they have high hopes of qualifying for the state finals at Weibring Golf Course on the Illinois State University campus in Normal.
“I think we can make it to the state tournament,” said junior Michael Holtz, the medalist at Gateway National. He shot 71, or par, to outshoot the rest of the field. East Alton-Wood River’s Drew Sobol and Edwardsville’s Ben Tyrell shared second with rounds of 75.
Holtz added, “I’d love to win the regional and the sectional and then see what happens at state.”
So would junior teammate Nick Messinger. They are serving as the leaders of the pack.
“It’s important for Nick and I to show the way for the younger guys on the team,” Holtz said. “We don’t take anything for granted. We have hard practices.”
Messinger said, “We have a really young team, but we have a lot of talent. It’d be nice to go to state and that’s our goal. I like our chances right now. Everybody is playing well and things are clicking.”
Junior Duncan McLain, sophomore Jack Patterson and freshmen Kolten Bauer and Sam Cogan are part of the talented blend. Patterson (77), Messinger (79) and Bauer (81) figured in the county fun.
Moore figures he has a deep group and likes the way Holtz supplies the necessary guidance.
“Michael is a leader and he just battles every day. He’s a very solid player,” Moore said.
The Explorers were scheduled to compete in a quadrangular Thursday at Litchfield. They’ll play Alton High Sept. 9 for the city championship at Rock Spring Golf Course.
Marquette will also participate in the highly regarded Dick Gerber Invite at Oak Brook Golf Course in Edwardsville. The Explorers picked it up after seeing the annual Redbird Tee-Off Classic rained out.
And they will take aim at winning another Prairie State Conference championship before playing host to a regional at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey. West Frankfort will welcome the sectional.
“It’s really great to see these kids maturing,” Moore said. “I’ve said if before, but they have so much determination that they want to win every single time. It’s nice to see the competition among them because they are definitely trying to push each other.
“Golf is what they do. They live out there at Rolling Hills.”
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