ALTON – A week ago, the Marquette Catholic Explorers won the Sages State Preview at Red Tail Run Golf Course in Decatur.
On Saturday, the Explorers were setting their sights on winning another tournament championship as they were competing in the Blast-Off Classic at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course.
“We all kind of came in hoping to do as well as we did before,” Marquette senior Madi Connors said.
But the Explorers didn’t leave the Alton course with the tournament championship trophy. The O’Fallon Panthers cruised to a 16-stroke victory over the Edwardsville Tigers to win the 15-team tournament that ended after nine holes due to inclement weather.
O’Fallon shot a 23-over-par. Edwardsville finished with a 39-over-par and Collinsville placed third with a 42-over-par. All three teams earned trophies.
Marquette, which hosted the Blast-Off Classic, finished in a tie for fifth with St. Anthony’s with a score of 56-over-par.
Ellie Kane finished in a tie for seventh with an eight-over-par and earned a medal to lead the Explorers. The top 10 finishers receive a medal.
“She did really well today,” Connors said. “She’s a really good part of our team.”
Civic Memorial and Alton were tied for ninth with a 63-over-par and Granite City finished 15th with a 94-over-par.
Bailey Scharpmack was Roxana’s lone golfer and finished in a tie for third with Edwardsville’s Addy Zeller with a six-over-par.
All of the golfers played under hot and humid conditions for most of the day before thunder arrived, forcing the tournament to be called off. The 18-hole tournament became a nine-hole event since all of the golfers played at least nine holes.
“It is what it is,” Edwardsville coach Abby Comerford said. “You can’t control the weather.”
Edwardsville, Civic Memorial, Alton and Granite City were playing in their first tournament of the season. They were scheduled to play in the Madison County Tournament on Aug. 16 at the Legacy in Granite City, but it was cancelled due to rain.
Alton coach Carey Cappel said her team was looking forward to playing in Saturday’s tournament.
“All of the girls on the (driving) range told me that they woke up today and they thought it was a good day and they were pumped,” Cappel said. “It’s just a good group that was ready to get out and compete and work on getting better and better and that’s what we’ve done every single match that we’ve been in so far.”
Junior Morgan Bemis shot a 10-over-par to lead the Redbirds.
Alton is now focusing on getting its first win of the season. The Redbirds (0-4) will play Columbia and Althoff on Wednesday at Anne Briar Course and a quadrangular match against Civic Memorial, Litchfield and Triad on Thursday at Rolling Hills.
“The confidence is starting to build and we’re going to get excited for next week,” Cappel said. “We’re at Anne Briar and the girls have been excited about that for a week now. Then, we’re back at our home course, so we’re looking to get some redemption on some teams.”
Megan Keel was Granite City’s top performer with an 11-over-par.
The Warriors will play Freeburg in a dual match on Monday at the Orchards. With a 6-0 record, Granite City is a victory away from matching its team-record start of 7-0 from 2015.
“I already think it’s going to be good throughout the year,” Granite City senior Emma Sturdivant said. “We’re going to do pretty good.”
The Tigers are off to a 7-0 start in Comerford’s first year as Edwardsville head coach.
“The girls are doing pretty well,” Comerford said. “It’s nice to see some of our freshmen and sophomores are picking up and they’re scoring for us, too.”
Civic Memorial is 2-6 after getting wins over Freeburg and Roxana. The Eagles’ next match will be against Highland and Collinsville on Wednesday.
“We’ll still going to compete this year,” CM coach Jane Middleton said. “We’ve been close in a lot of matches. If we keep being close, we’re going to beat some teams yet.”
The Explorers have a pair of matches at Spencer T. Olin on Tuesday and Wednesday. They play Hillsboro on Tuesday and Roxana and Edwardsville on Wednesday.
Marquette is looking to turn in another outstanding season this fall. Last year, the Explorers finished 19-5 and won the Madison County small-school division title.
“I think now we all know what we need to work on,” Connors said. “I think we can buckle down and play good for the rest of the season.”