O'Fallon: Sports

Surging Panther golfers keep pedal to the metal

Neither rain nor wind nor storm have kept the O’Fallon High School golf teams from burning up the links over the past two weeks. Despite cancellation of the boys’ Panther Classic and the postponement of the Lady Panther Invitational until Oct. 1 due to inclement weather, both OTHS squads have continued to post outstanding scores, allowing the girls’ team to record claim their fifth and sixth major tournament titles and the boys to power to three straight dual match victories.

Most recently, the O’Fallon girls produced total team efforts to win the Belleville East Invitational and the IL/MO River Challenge tournaments. Playing on the par 3 Yorktown course, the Lady Panthers roared past a field of 14 teams to claim the title. The O’Fallon girls finished with a 236 – five strokes better than second place Nashville. Althoff (244) and Belleville East (260) rounded out the top five.

The Lady Panthers were led by Natalie Meinkoth, who earned her second individual title of the year with an 18-hole total of 53, edging Belleville East’s Bre Haas and Althoff’s Maggie Tiernan who both finished with 57’s. Emily Marrs also broke the 60-stroke barrier with a 59. Brooke Boatman (62), Briana McMinn (62) and Alyssa McMinn (63) were the other major contributors to the OTHS victory, a team effort that OTHS coach Chris Eddy has come to expect from his talented squad.

“We again had very good scores from everyone,” Eddy said. “Natalie (Meinkoth) was exceptional. Her game has continued to progress throughout the season. This has not come as a surprise as she possesses an extraordinary work ethic, which has been reflected in her scoring and her two individual championships to date.”

The Lady Panthers continued their assault in their next outing, facing an even stiffer challenge in the IL/MO River Challenge.

“This tournament was our girls’ toughest challenge yet with the strongest field we have had to face,” Eddy said. “The Missouri schools had a qualifying tournament prior to the finals with only the top five schools allowed to participate against the field of teams from Illinois.”

The OTHS girls did not wilt under the pressure, firing a team total of 329. Their final tally was matched by St. Joseph’s Academy, but the Lady Panthers were able to claim the outright title in a tie-breaker.

“After tabulating the top four scores we were still tied with St. Joe’s,” Eddy said. “After adding the fourth score, we were still tied. After adding the fifth individual score, the two teams were still deadlocked, but when the sixth score was added, we secured the victory — a testimony to our team’s depth.”

A single stroke separated the top O’Fallon finishers with Emily Marrs posting the top OTHS score — 80 — only two strokes behind the tournament medalist — Katie Keuss of Cor Jesu. Three other golfers tied Marrs for second place, but superior rounds by Natalie Meinkoth (81), Alyssa McMinn (82), Brooke Boatman (86) and Liz Boehning (91) proved enough of a juggernaut for the Lady Panthers to claim the team title.

Hoping to extend their extraordinary run to seven consecutive major tournament wins, the OTHS girls will travel to the Pekin Invitational on Saturday in what Eddy believes will be another litmus test for his talented squad.

“The Pekin tournament will give us a good indication as to how we stack up against the top teams from central and northern Illinois.”

While the O’Fallon girls were grabbing headlines, the OTHS boys’ team was making its own noise, streaking to three consecutive dual victories — two coming against Southwestern Conference opponents.

The Panthers began their most recent string of successes with a win over Collinsville. Hosting the Kahoks on the Tamarack course, O’Fallon’s top four golfers came in below 40 to take a 142-157 victory. Senior standout Logan Harris fired a three under par 33 to lead the OTHS effort. Fellow senior Matt Mannisi (34), Drew Taylor (37) and Taylor Patterson (38) helped the Panthers post their lowest team score of the season.

Coach Kevin Kellermann’s crew next hosted Civic Memorial and had a much easier time disposing of the Eagles, scoring a lopsided 155-190 win. Harris and Mannisi again paced the Panther attack, shooting 36 and 38 respectively. Freshman phenom Logan Lowery contributed a round of 40, and sophomore Taylor Patterson rounded out the top four scorers with a 41.

“Harris and Mannisi have been solid number one and two players for us all season,” Kellermann said. “We have had contributions from all of our other golfers at one time or another as the season has progressed. Lowery’s contributions have been a blessing — something we didn’t necessarily anticipate since he is a freshman, but his rounds have counted in nearly every match we have played.”

The O’Fallon linksters capped their week with a 155-205 drubbing of Alton this past Monday, Sept. 19. Playing the Spenser T. Olin course, the Panthers were led by Logan Harris who posted a one under 35. Logan Lowery carded O’Fallon’s second best score — a 38 — with support from Alex Keel (39) and Reed Connor (43).