PONTIAC – Although the weather and the course gave the local golf teams fits at the Tri-County Conference Tournament, it was nothing compared to the difficulty they had in keeping up with Roanoke-Benson.
The Rockets blasted their way to the overall team championship, fueled by Caden Harms and D.J. Norman, who finished 1-2 individually as the black-and-orange dominated the field on a warm and windy afternoon at Wolf Creek Golf Course.
Roanoke-Benson turned in a team total of 335, just slipping past runner-up Dwight at 340, but significantly ahead of the rest of the eight-team field. Seneca (369) was third, followed by Marquette (388), Midland (397), Putnam County (398), Henry-Senachwine (403) and Woodland (430).
It took three playoff holes to solve the individual championship with Harms prevailing over Norman. Each finished the 18-hole regulation with a 79.
Following the two Rockets and Dwight’s Andrew Gartke, who was third with an 83, Marquette’s Carson Zellers improved his score at conference by 18 strokes over a year ago, finishing with an 84 to place fourth. It could have been much better, if not for one costly hole on the back nine, but he finished with nine-hole rounds of 40 and 44.
“Hole No. 16 was a big struggle for me today” said Zellers, who took an 8 on the par 4. “I also had a tap-in par that just got away from me that went for a bogey, but other than those, I did pretty well. There were a few bad shots here and there like everybody has, but I was able to deal with it, recover and did the best I could do … My putting was there today, and my driver was there today.
“I figured I’d need a 75 to get in the top five, so when I came in with an 84, I didn’t think I had a shot … All I wanted to do was get under that score from last year and I’m very pleased with what I shot today.”
Also for the Crusaders, Casey Schearer came in with a 98, while Ryan Peterson added a 102 and Daniel Hoffman a 104.
“The wind came up about halfway through the round, so pair that with the slick greens, and it was tough out there,” Marquette coach Mark Vickroy said. “But they all played pretty well, and I’m proud of them all.”
Leading Seneca was Kaleb Powell with rounds of 45 and 41, giving him a seventh-place total of 86. Grant Siegel was next, carding a 91, followed by Keegan Murphy with a 93 and Ryker Terry with a 99.
“We’re kind of in a rebuild year after graduating eight boys from last year,” Seneca coach Bryan Erickson said. “We have a couple guys back, but there are four new ones, so we knew we’d have some bumps in the road. But overall, I’m really happy with how we played on a tough course with tough greens. … The wind came up on the back half, probably at about 20 miles an hour. That made the greens even tougher and pushed some shots 10, 15 yards off.
“We definitely played our best golf at the beginning of the year, stumbled a little in the middle, then have been picking up lately. For the most part, I’m pleased where we’re at with the regional just around the corner.”
Putnam County was led by Miles Walder with a 97, just a stroke ahead of teammate Andrew Pyszka. Completing the scoring were A.J. Furar with a 100 and Logan Keesee with a 103.
“I thought today we could have done better, unfortunately, but it was a tough day with all that wind. It took a toll on a lot of us,” PC coach Sydney Eustice said. “This was probably our worst 18-hole score this season – great timing – but a lot of our younger guys stepped up, and it’s also really good prep for all of us for the regional coming up next week. Hopefully, we’ll have learned from our mistakes by then.”
Henry received a team-best score of 91 from Carson Rowe. Also for the Mallards, Ayden Malavolti carded a 99, Jacob Miller had a 103 and Nolan Dunshee added a 110.
For Woodland, Carter Ruff led the way with a 100, while Kyle Bliss contributed a 105, Sam Schmitz had a 110 and Mason Sterling and Tucker Hill each had a 115.
The girls portion of the meet was small in numbers, but solid in performance. Roanoke-Benson won with a 417, while Dwight shot a 445 and Seneca carded a 458.
Julia Hogan paced the Irish with a 101. Addison Stiegler ended up at 117, Shelby Welsh had a 118 and Jessice Bertrang shot a 122.
Woodland’s Mya Wulzen fired a 111 and Marquette’s Mary Clare Phillips had a 119.