The Marquette Catholic boys' golf team poses with the Madison County Tournament small school championship on Thursday at Gateway International Golf Links in Madison.
MADISON - The Marquette Catholic Explorers completed a solid first week to begin the 2014 season on Thursday at Gateway International Golf Links in Madison.
After winning the Hickory Stick Tournament on Monday and taking second at the Alton Tee-Off Classic on Tuesday, the Explorers secured the '14 Madison County small school championship on Thursday, carding a 311. The Edwardsville Tigers nabbed the large school title, shooting a 309, successfully defending their 2013 title.
"It's nice to cap off the week with the MadCo title," Marquette head coach Pat Moore said. "These kids really wanted to win today. They showed what they could do out at Belk on Monday at the Hickory Stick winning that and they're determined right now. They've got a fire right now. They're doing some superstitious stuff. They're sitting on the same spots on the bus, they're putting down the windows the same way, they're ready. They're pumped for the rest of the season. I think the best is yet to come out of these guys."
If it wasn't enough the Explorers won the tournament, sophomore Michael Holtz earned overall medalist honors by firing a round of 74. Holtz shot 79 Monday in the Hickory Stick and 75 Tuesday at Spencer T. Olin Golf Club, tying for first but losing out on medalist honors on a scorecard playoff. Thursday that wasn't the case; he won it outright.
"I played great today," Holtz said. "That 75 (on Tuesday) really motivated me to push even harder and achieve an even better score to win this thing.
"Monday started off a little rough, 39 putts and I shot a 79. My coach Pat, all the credit to him on these scores. He really fixed my putting and because of him I shot these great scores."
The biggest asset to his game, according to Holtz, is his accuracy.
"I don't miss too many fairways and that really helps to get the ball on the green closer and make easier birdie putts and easier par putts," Holtz said.
Rounding out the team score for Marquette were: Andrew McCluskey (77), Nick Messinger (80) and Max Goepel (80).
Following the Explorers in the small school field were: Civic Memorial (332), East Alton-Wood River (353), Roxana (358) and Metro East Lutheran (364). MELHS won the small school title in 2013.
The Eagles were led by J. Ryan Waters with a 76, the second best score on the day. The rest of the CM team rounded out with: Alec Hilliard (82), Eric Howes (86) and Konnar Loewen (88).
EA-WR got an 84 from Brett Gaines to lead the way. Drew Sobol (85), Jake Hei (92) and Hunter O'Brien (92) joined Gaines to round out the team scoring for the Oilers.
For Roxana, Zack Moore paced the team with an 81. Zack Carlisle (83), Joe Ingram (91) and Tanner Gray (103) joined Moore to tabulate the team score for the Shells.
It was a solid showing from Moore, who began the week as the medalist of the Hickory Stick Tournament. Roxana head coach Jeff Pare was pleased with his performance.
"Zack's a bonafide No. 1, he's a nice player," Pare said. "He's one of the better players in the whole area and I'm looking forward to him advancing to regionals, sectionals and state, hopefully; that's our goal.
"We showed a lot of improvement today as a team, despite the score. Some people get too caught up in the numbers and it doesn't justify what we're trying to do and what we're doing. In that respect I'm pleased with the effort."
The large school scores rounded out behind Edwardsville with: Granite City (332), Alton (337), Triad (342), Collinsville (351) and Highland (358).
The Redbirds were paced by Nick Jamison with an 80. He was joined in the team scoring by: Max Hunter (81), Sam Ballard (85) and Nick DeLoach (91).
The Tigers had all their scorers enter the clubhouse with sub 80 scores. Ben Tyrell, Cale Ambuehl and Luke Babington all fired 77s, while Justin Hemings turned in a 78.
"Everything that came in was 80 or lower," EHS head coach Dene Schickedanz said. "It was great to see the new freshman with his first experience, Tanner White, shoot an 80 in the heat out here and the wind. I thought that was an excellent score."
Schickedanz commended the Explorers for a great tournament, too.
"Marquette and Holtz did it again," he said. "Holtz is a good player and they're a great 2A team and I think they're going to have a great year."
The MadCo Tournament is a great barometer for area teams to see where they stack up against the local competition. For the small school teams it gives them a chance to measure up against the big school powers, too.
"I told the guys, 'The numbers you played today in the weather, I'm more than pleased with,' Pare said. "It's not always about going low and winning the trophies, it's about what we know, where we're at and what are we're doing to get better and make improvements. We certainly did that today."
Moore said it's just a great confidence booster for his young Explorers to show they can hang with the Class 3A golf programs.
"The kids are watching the scoreboards, too," Moore said. "They see that with Edwardsville and they know that's the best team. From the last couple of tournaments what I've seen is Marquette and Edwardsville are the best two teams in Madison County right now."