Photo by Bill Roseberry
The Marquette Catholic boys’ golf team is (from left) head coach Pat Moore, Sam Cogan, Duncan McLain, Michael Holtz, Nick Messinger, Kolten Bauer and Jack Patterson. The Explorers capped their solid 2015 campaign with a seventh-place finish Oct. 17 at the Class 2A state tournament.
It’s all about the process, taking steps in the right direction.
For the Marquette Catholic boys’ golf team, the experience gained at the Class 2A state golf tournament on Oct. 17 at Weibring Golf Course in Normal was immeasurable. The Explorers got a seventh-place finish under their belt at state this season, but with returning their entire lineup next year, the expectations are already skyrocketing for 2016.
“I’m very, very proud of these kids and how they did it,” Marquette head coach Pat Moore said. “I’m super excited about next year with all of them having this experience. They already know they have a great chance to get back here.”
Anchored by three juniors, Michael Holtz, Nick Messinger and Duncan McLain, and complemented by a trio of freshmen, Kolten Bauer, Jack Patterson and Sam Cogan, the future is definitely bright for the Explorers.
“It’s going to be real exciting for next year,” Moore said. “Everybody is going to know about us now and we’re on the map again like we were in the past. People will know who we are; especially since we don’t have any seniors, they know who we are now. It will be tougher because people will see us coming. It’s been nice flying under the radar and people not knowing. Now I think people are going to know who we are and who’s on that blue bus rolling into the parking lot.”
That blue bus rolled into Normal for a practice round on Oct. 15 and then the Explorers got down to business on Oct. 16 and 17 at Weibring, the home course for the Illinois State Redbirds.
Messinger guided the group over the two days, firing a 154, good for a tie for 18th overall. Fellow junior Holtz shot 157, placing him in a tie for 25th.
The rest of the lineup rounded out with: Bauer (171) and McLain (179) assisting in the team score and Patterson (179) and Cogan (199) finishing out the lineup.
It’s not uncommon for Holtz and Messinger to be at the top of the scoring sheet for the Explorers. Holtz was overall medalist at the Madison County Meet at Gateway International Golf Links in Madison and the 2A Marquette Regional at Rolling Hills Golf Club in Godfrey earlier in the season.
“Those are our go-to guys. That’s our (Michael) Jordan and (Scottie) Pippen,” Moore said of Holtz and Messinger. “The guys feed off of them.”
Messinger said it was a different role for himself and fellow juniors Holtz and McLain. Void of senior leadership, they had to step up and handle those duties and he believes they did that well.
“It was a little different without a senior, with us juniors being the leaders on the team,” Messinger said. “We helped (the freshmen) progress throughout the year.”
Bauer agreed. He feels that leadership provided allowed he and his freshmen brethren to relax and not overdo it on the course in the first years of their prep careers.
“I learned I don’t have to shoot the low round for the team, I can just stay steady,” Bauer said. “I don’t have to play all that aggressive because I know Michael and Nick are going to be there and I can really fall back on them.”
Moore thinks the experience Bauer, Patterson and Cogan received in their first year will greatly assist their maturation process for next season. He thinks their improvement will be tenfold for 2016 due to their work ethic.
“All they can do is grow and get stronger,” Moore said. “They’re smarter already. They know what to do for next season. I guarantee they’ve already started working on next year. They have their summer tournaments they play in. They’re going to be ready and this going to be our goal next year as well. With all the teams this year with all the seniors they have, we have a pretty good chance of doing something special next year. They see that, too.”
Moore said McLain is his guy that kind of slides under the radar sometimes, but he’s a key cog on the Explorers, too. Moore expects him to keep improving.
“Duncan is great. He’s steady and just goes about his business,” Moore said. “He has his bad days here or there, but I just kind of let him go. He’ll come in with a high 70s score every once in awhile and he’ll come in with those low 80s scores you need in tournaments.
“I know he’s going to be determined to get that scoring average down a lot more because next year will be his last year.”
With all the experience gained in ‘15 and another strong offseason of training, Messinger is stoked for next season already.
“I think we can find a lot more consistent scores and that all comes with experience,” Messinger said. “We’ve got all that experience now, so we’ll be pretty set for next year.
“I feel like next year we have a really good chance of finishing in the top three here. I expect a pretty good year out of all of us and it will be a lot of fun.”
Marquette has advanced to state five times. The Explorers were fourth in 1A in 2002, tied for fifth in 1A in ‘03, finished 11th in 1A in ‘04 and grabbed fourth in 1A in 2012.
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