Sports

O’Fallon girls, Edwardsville boys off to a fast start in 2015 golf season

O’Fallon girls golf coach Chris Eddy wasn’t the least bit surprised that the Panthers beat Edwardsville on Saturday at the Marquette (Blastoff) Classic at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course.

What did surprise Eddy about the Panthers two-stroke win was how early in the season it came.

“I think in each of the past five years we’ve beaten Edwardsville at least once. Sometimes we’ve beaten them two or three times. But we’ve got four sophomores and a junior in our top six players and so to come out and beat a good Edwardsville team, which is playing a lot of seniors, I’m very proud of these girls,’’ Eddy said. “But I reminded them that just because we beat them once, doesn’t mean we’ll beat them again. We’ve got to keep improving and working hard each day.’’

Getting rounds of 73 from medalist Emily Marrs and 86 from sophomore Brooke Boatman, the Panthers finished with a score of 349, while Edwardsville, led by rounds of 86 from Kayla Weinacht and Samantha Doak, was at 351. Host Marquette finished a distant third with a 378 score.

The win is the second of the season for O’Fallon, which opened its season two weeks ago by winning the Goalby-Haas Classic at St. Clair Country Club in Belleville.

Leading the way has been Marrs, who has wasted little time in establishing herself as one of the top five players in the metro-east area. The 73 shot at Spencer T. Olin breaks the O’Fallon High School 18-hole record by three strokes. Marrs also shares the nine-hole record with a 35.

“Emily Marrs probably is the hardest working player I’ve coached. She just has a tremendous passion for the game and spent a tremendous amount of time working to improve,’’ Eddy said. “She’s not tremendously long off the tee yet, but hopefully that will come as she gets older and stronger.

“Emily has big dreams and hopes for her golf and she’s the type of player who will do what it takes to make those dreams a reality.’’

Boatman and Alyssa McMinn, also a sophomore, are also among the better high school players in the Southwestern Conference. Boatman is capable of shooting scores in the low to mid 40s on a regular basis, while McMinn should average in the mid to upper 40s range.

The key to the Panthers season may rest however on their ability to find a fourth score in the upper 40s for nine-hole matches and right around the 100 mark for 18-hole events.

“I think we’ll have three scores each time out. If we can get that fourth score right around 100 or below on a consistent basis, it would be a good thing for us,’’ Eddy said. “ We’re not as deep as we’ve been in the past and that will hurt us from time to time this year. We just need to keep improving and hopefully somebody will step up.’’

The three players Eddy hopes will help out include senior Natalie Fix, sophomore Savanah Schuhardt and junior Paige Gibson.

Eddy added that the Panthers have been aided by assistant coach Dan May. May was the longtime Panthers boys golf coach.

Hemings, Tigers off to a fast start

The Edwardsville Tigers suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday at the (Mount Prospect) St. Viator Open, losing to the host school by three strokes at Old Orchard Country Club. But the Tigers still managed to shoot 303 and senior Justin Hemings continued his assault on the record books.

The 2014 Belleville News-Democrat Class 3A Player of the Year, Hemings shot a 1-over par 71 to place second in the individual competition. The round comes less then a week after Hemings fired a 7-under par 65 at the Champaign Invitational at the University of Illinois Orange Course in Savoy.

Hemings’ red-hot start to the season comes after a somewhat inconsistent summer who played in several St. Louis Metropolitan Golf Association events and qualifiers. But as of right now, Hemings’ game is just fine.

“Justin’s start to the season has been tremendous. The Champaign round was the lowest in school history. It was amazing to watch him shoot 7 under even with two bogeys on his card,’’ Tigers coach Dene Schickedanz said. His ball striking has been consistent and accurate. He can play better still. By his standards his putting can get better and I think it will soon.’’

The rest of the Tigers have also been solid and were again on Saturday as Edwardsville finished with a 303 score. Tanner White tied for third place with a 73, while Ben Tyrrell was 12th with a 77.

“The boys have had an excellent start to the season. We are learning from our mistakes and improving each time we play. This is a very hungry team that wants to succeed and play their best every time out,’’ Schickedanz said. “It has been a very fun group to be around and watch grow. The Champaign and St. Viator back to back events were a tough challenge and I was very proud of the kids effort and results. This team has very high expectations for themselves and the skill set to make them happen.’’

Contact reporter Dean Criddle at dcriddle@bnd.com or 618-239-2661.

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