WOOD RIVER — Drew Sobol of the East Alton-Wood River High golf team came out swinging in style Monday.
So did the Marquette Catholic High Explorers.
Sobol shot a torrid 5-under par 67 to finish first individually in the Hickory Stick Boys’ Invitational at the Belk Park Course. The Explorers carded a 311 score to successfully defend their team title in the sixth annual event.
“It’s a good way to start the season and I think it’s going to be a great year,” Marquette coach Pat Moore said. “We have a lot of depth and determination on this team.”
The Explorers, who finished 26 strokes ahead of runner-up Civic Memorial in the 14-school tournament, are back at it Tuesday in the high-powered Alton Tee-Off Classic at the Spencer T. Olin Course. Then they participate Thursday in the Madison County tourney at Gateway National in Madison.
Michael Holtz (73 score), Nick Messinger (77), Jack Patterson (80) and Kolten Bauer (81) paced them at the Hickory Stick event. The Explorers became the first team to repeat as tournament champions. EA-WR (2010), Hillsboro (2011), Greenville (2012) and Winchester West Central (2013) also captured titles.
“We don’t have a senior on the team,” Moore said. “So for the time I’ve coached at Marquette, this could be the best team I’ve had.”
Nobody was better than EA-WR junior Sobol in the season-opening competition. He registered rounds of 34 and 33 and maintained sharp command the entire way.
“My long irons and putting were phenomenal,” Sobol said of playing on his home course. “It’s the best tournament score I’ve shot at Belk. I think I’ve played this course more than anyone else has played it.”
He added, “I felt good about the way I played. I thought I needed to get off to a good start and make a statement in my first tournament.”
Dad Dave Sobol, the Oilers’ coach, liked the aggressive way Drew attacked the course.
“It was pretty exciting,” Dave Sobol said. “Drew didn’t miss a putt. He also didn’t have a bogey.”
Tyler Woods of Palmyra Northwestern logged a 73 to share second place with Marquette’s Holtz. CM’s Alec Hilliard and Tyler Sneed of Litchfield tied for fourth. They had scores of 74. Then came the Explorers’ Messinger, followed by Waterloo Gibault’s Zach Heet (80) and Marquette’s Patterson.
Hilliard, a senior, is aiming for a banner fall.
“It’s a good way to start the season,” he said of his 2-over par score. “My goal is to get to state this year because it would be my first time to do that. I think my all-around game has improved since last year and my course management is definitely better.”
Steve Carey, the Eagles’ coach, is looking for Hilliard to keep the Eagles flying.
“He’s our leader and has played well for us every year. He’s looking for big things this season and he wants to go to state,” Carey said.
Parker Calvin (82), Chase Spanhook (90) and Tristen Frank (81) completed the CM scoring. The Eagles are at MadCo on Thursday.
Zach Carlisle, the only senior playing for Roxana, led the Shells with an 81. Scott Anderson was next at 89. The Shells shot 407 as a team.
“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, so we are in a rebuilding mode,” Roxana coach Jeff Pare said. “But we’ve made improvement and we will get better.”
Other teams and scores included: Waterloo Gibault (348), Jersey (371), Litchfield (379), Southwestern (398), Hillsboro (403), Roxana (407), Vandalia (408), Metro East Lutheran (412) and Carrollton (412). Palmyra Northwestern, First Baptist of O’Fallon and EA-WR didn’t field full squads.
“I was pleased with the turnout of teams,” Oilers’ coach Sobol said. “It’s about the same number of teams we have had in the past. And we have had a lot of college players who have come out of this tournament.”