GODFREY — The Marquette Catholic Explorers gave head coach Pat Moore a pretty nice wedding present on Tuesday.
Playing on their home course and ready for a strong postseason run, the Explorers kick started it in the right direction, carding a 308 and winning the Class 2A Marquette Regional crown at Rolling Hills Golf Club by 28 strokes over second-place Greenville. Highland also advanced as a team with a 341. The rest of the non-advancing field rounded out with: Civic Memorial (344), Triad (344), Jersey (355), East Alton-Wood River (361), Southwestern (373) and Roxana (419).
Moore, who married his wife Marissa on Saturday, was happy with the performance. He even postponed his honeymoon for what he hopes will be a strong postseason run by Marquette.
“She was out here today. I told her, 'Honey, this is pretty good weather for a honeymoon isn't it?'” Moore said with a chuckle. “She looked forward to coming out here and there was no problem with postponing (the honeymoon) to hopefully past state. The honeymoon is postponed to Oct. 19 and hopefully we go to state (Oct. 16 and 17), because she wants to go to state as well. I'm not in the doghouse or anything.”
With five scores under 80 the Marquette golfers certainly weren't in the doghouse on Tuesday. The Explorers were led by junior Michael Holtz, who shot a 71 to garner medalist honors.
Holtz became the first Marquette boys' golfer to win an individual regional crown since Danny Selby won the Class 1A Marquette Regional — also at Rolling Hills — with a 69 in 2011.
“I didn't know that stat, that's a great feeling,” Holtz said of being medalist. “I actually know Danny Selby.
“I was just trying to shoot a good round around par and give us a good base score and win the regional championship. That's all I was focused on was getting out as a team, not so much individually.”
Last year the Explorers won the title at the Roxana Regional at Belk Park Golf Course in Wood River with a 324, but then plummeted to eighth place as a team at the Waterloo Sectional and failed to advance anyone to state. Marquette is hungry and confident to change its fate this season.
Holtz admitted with the addition of three talented freshmen in Sam Cogan, Jack Patterson and Kolten Bauer, has added a plethora of depth to the squad which helps come tournament time.
“We're definitely six deep and that's a big part of our success,” Holtz said. “If we didn't have six deep then there would be a lot of pressure on me and Nick (Messinger). I love having a deep team because then I can go out and go flag hunting and know that someone is backing me up.”
Tuesday, the Explorers got scoring from Holtz, Messinger (79), Bauer (79) and Duncan McLain (79). Cogan (79) and Patterson (83) rounded out the lineup with solid performances, too.
The Eagles were right on the cusp of making it as a team, missing the cutoff by three strokes. They got scoring from Alec Hilliard (78), Parker Calvin (85), Will Spencer (90) and Tristen Frank (91).
Hilliard and Calvin advanced as individuals. The top 10 scores on non-advancing teams moved on. Hilliard's day was good enough to earn the fourth best score overall.
EA-WR's Drew Sobol turned in the third best score of the day, shooting a 77. Sobol also advanced to the West Frankfort Sectional on Oct. 13 at Franklin County Golf Club in West Franklin, as did teammate Brendon Allen (89). Allen was the final individual to get out.
Hunter O'Brien (90) and Griffin Parko (105) rounded out the scoring for the Oilers.
Roxana's Zach Carlisle (84) will join the group at the sectional as an individual also. He led the Shells and was joined in the team scoring by: Scott Anderson (94), Justin Dearduff (115) and Brandon Kelly (126).
Holtz said the Explorers have played practice rounds at Franklin County Golf Club and done well. He thinks they will be ready to go when they hit the links there with tougher competition on the horizon.
Marquette, Greenville and Highland will be joined by: Mattoon, Effingham and Lawrenceville from the Effingham Regional, Centralia, Salem and Massac County out of the Salem Regional and Columbia, Althoff and Mascoutah from the Waterloo Regional.
“We had a practice round there and we figured it up and we shot like 295 as a team, so we did real well,” Holtz said. “I think we can beat everyone. I think we're just as good as everyone else, it just depends on the day. It's only 18 holes and there's a lot that can happen. We beat Centralia once this year and Althoff, we've been within one or two strokes every time we've played them so we're biting at their heels. I think we can get them.”
Moore added about the sectional course, “I think it lays out to be something like a Rolling Hills mixed with a Belk Park, which we absolutely love, so hopefully it plays out in our favor. It will be a nice little two hour trip down there and hopefully a nice one back... On Tuesday we're going to try and get that plaque as well, if not, the other goal is to be in that top three for the teams that go onto state in Bloomington.”