MORRIS – It takes quite a bit to get the Seneca Fighting Irish golf team out of its traditional kelly green outfits, but they did so with good reason Saturday afternoon and fate rewarded them handsomely for it.
Sporting red, white and blue shirts bought for the team by one of the parents and distributed that day, the Irish looked every bit the patriots one might expect to see on The Creek Golf Course for the inaugural Seneca “America Proud 9/11” Golf Invitational.
And they not only looked like proud Americans, they played like them as well, putting all four of their counting scores, plus another, all in the event’s top 10 individual showings on their way to a winning team score of 338.
“Today, in a lot of different respects, was a special day,” Seneca coach Bryan Erickson said. “Last year, Marty Hettelle said we should host an invitational, and as soon as he suggested Sept. 11 we said ‘Hey, let’s make it a patriotic day.’
“I told the kids going into this that we were the favorites, and they played fantastic. At times they had a rough go of it, but they battled out of it and made it a perfect day.”
Other local teams in the eight-team field were Streator, which finished tied with Dwight for fourth with a score of 377, and Marquette, which ended up sixth with a 416.
Peotone’s Miles Heflin was the individual medalist with a 79 (39-40), taking that honor by three strokes over runner-up Elliot McGuire of Hinckley-Big Rock. Seneca’s best were not at all far behind.
Noah Quigley was only one shot back with an 83 (41-42), and teammate Rylee Stenzel shot a 84 (42-42), placing them in third and fourth places, respectively. The Irish’s Noah Cade carded an 85 to take fifth place based on a scorecard playoff.
Also scoring for the Irish were Owen Quigley with an eighth-place 86 (39-47), edging ninth-place teammate Kaleb Powell’s 86 (43-43) in a scorecard playoff to give SHS five of the top 10 individual finishers.
“I tell you what, you look up and down our lineup and we’ve got six people who can shoot in the 80s and maybe three or four could shoot in the 70s,” Erickson said. “With us hosting both the boys and girls regionals here, I think some saw today where they could save a stroke here or there to get in the 70s. That might be all it takes to win a regional.”
The Bulldogs’ Noah Colter shot a 91 (46-45), followed by Jayden Nambo with a 94 (45-49), Cooper Wahl a 95 (42-53) and Dane Winterrowd a 97 (48-49). Also participating were Drew Donahue with a 98 (49-49) and Cole Martin a 103 (54-49).
“Today we were just really inconsistent. Nobody could get anything going today,” Streator coach Dusty Masley said. “We don’t get to play on courses like this too often, fast greens and traps around them like this, so it’s hard to duplicate it in practice, but this was a good tune-up for the Ottawa Invite at Deer Park on Monday for the conference tournament and for the regional not that far away.
“Hopefully we’ll be better next week than we were this week.”
For the Crusaders, Carson Zellers led the way with a 96 (47-49). Next were Kaitlyn Magoonaugh with a 100 (47-53), Jeffrey Lafleur a 104 (50-54) and Cody Ewers a 116 (58-58). Ben Weyer had a 122 (60-62).
“It wasn’t our best day, but it wasn’t all bad,” MA coach Mark Vickroy said. “We did some good things, some bad things, but it was a good learning day for us. They’re getting the short game down, but this was not a good day off the tees, and on fairway shots we struggled. The greens were a little faster than we’re used to as well.
“Hopefully we can work things out by regional because I tell you this group is capable of so much more, all of them. I just wish I had a magic wand to make it all come together all at once.”