WOOD RIVER — A pillar of balance and consistency, that's what the Edwardsville Tigers proved to be Monday at Belk Park Golf Course.
The Tigers turned in a 299 at the Southwestern Conference Tournament to wrap up an outright league championship after going perfect through the dual portion of the SWC season.
Ben Tyrrell was medalist Monday, firing a 73 with a 38 on the front and 35 on the back at Belk Park. Teammates Tanner White (74) and Spencer Patterson (75) nipped right on Tyrrell's heels, as the trio turned in the top three scores for the tournament. Luke Babington (77) rounded out Edwardsville's scoring. Babington's score was fifth best individually on the cool and breezy afternoon.
“Par was 74 today, so having four scores right around that number was really nice,” EHS coach Adam Tyler said. “It showed a little bit of depth with our top five today. Even that fifth score was Blake Burris and 79 is a really good score on a day like today. When you compare our scores with the rest of the conference I'm really pleased with the way the guys played. They played really well.”
The Tigers finished 28 strokes better than second place O'Fallon (327). The rest of the field rounded out with: Belleville East (335), Collinsville (338), Granite City (346), Belleville West (350) and Alton (353). East St. Louis did not field a boys' golf team this season.
The conditions on the course played tough on Monday according to Tyrrell. It marked the coolest day the players had encountered on the season and wind was a challenging factor.
“The greens were playing really good, they were quick today,” Tyrrell said. “It was pretty windy today and the wind was coming out of the north today, which normally it comes from the south so it was a completely different course.
“When we played our practice round (the wind) was coming from the other direction so we had to adjust a little bit.”
Overall Tyrrell was satisfied with his day, but hoped for a little better overall performance. It marked the fourth tournament Tyrrell has medaled this season and the second one at Belk Park. He also went low at the Madison County Meet on Aug. 18 in Wood River.
“The front nine was a little bit rough just getting used to the greens,” Tyrrell said. “They were quicker than I thought they'd be. I had two, three putts that didn't help much, but on the back nine I got it together a little bit. I had three birdies on the day.”
Granite City head coach Jeff Ridenhour was happy to see some young players step up at the SWC Tournament as well as Riley Brown, who turned in the eighth best score individually at 79.
Joining Brown in the team scoring for the Warriors were: freshmen Cameron Rubenacker (87) and Bennett Smallie (89) and junior Drew Wielgus (91).
“In his high school career that's the first time he's broke 80,” Ridenhour said of Brown. “That's something to be proud of for him. He's been capable of doing this all year. He just hasn't made it through an entire round. He shot 82 here during the Madison County.”
Ridenhour added, “This is one of the better scores for us on the season. We had some freshmen step up for us today and score. That's a plus and just shows signs of things to come. Bennett Smallie had a great day. Cameron Rubenacker, great round for a freshman. It's going to be indicative of things coming down the road.”
Despite the Redbirds turning in the seventh best team score Monday, head coach Zach Deeder was pleased. The reason was because of the performances he got low in his lineup.
Alton's No. 4 player, Dalton Lahue, led the team scoring with a 78. He shot 40 on the front and 38 on the back. Lahue's score was the seventh best individually.
“His exact words were, 'I don't know what happened,'” Deeder said. “It was good all day. He did have a couple of bad holes, but he came right back from them. I'm super impressed with Dalton Lahue, he played great today.”
The No. 2 score for the Birds came from the No. 8 position, Dawson Gurley (88). Other scorers were: Ryan Boyd (93) and Matt Moore, Dylan Lahue and Adam Stilts all carded 94s for the fourth score.
“I'm super happy and excited about this and this is the time of year to do this,” Deeder said of his young squad. “We've improved a ton over the course of the season and I hope it carries into regionals.”
Deeder believes the scores from the lower slots in the lineup will inject confidence and balance into the lineup as a whole.
“It gets contagious,” Deeder said. “When you're four guy comes in good and especially when you're eight guy comes in good, the ones and twos and threes feel like they have backup, there's confidence in that and now that we've done it, we know we can do it.”
For Tyler, maybe the biggest blessing Monday was the weather. As the postseason begins it will get cooler and players will see more inclement overall course conditions.
“From here on out you're going to see not only better teams, but you're going to see tougher conditions,” Tyler said. “There are no excuses, everybody is out there playing the same course and conditions and sometimes the most mentally tough teams are going to come out on top, so this is good that we got to play in conditions like this today and hopefully every time we go out and play it's these types of conditions from now on to get us ready for that postseason run.”
All of the SWC teams will be cast in the Class 3A Quincy Regional on Oct. 4 at Westview Golf Course in Quincy along with the host Blue Devils and Springfield.