Marquette returns to the Class 4 state golf tournament as a team and the Mustangs are looking to make it a good trip across the state.
The Mustangs advanced to play at state tournament by finishing second in the recent Class 4 Sectional 2 meet played at Forest Hills Country Club.
Marquette joins Chaminade along with Jackson, Jefferson City, Kansas City Rockhurst, Liberty, Rock Bridge and Springfield Glendale as teams competing at state.
This will be the 79th year for the Missouri State High School Activities Association boys golf championships.
The Class 4 state meet begins it’s two-day run Monday (May 14). It will be played at Swope Park Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City. The cost to watch a round is $8.
Marquette coach Eric Schweain’s program is no stranger to competing at state.
“This is our fourth time going to state in the last eight years,” Schweain said.
The Mustangs have had a third-, fourth-, and sixth-place finish in the last six years.
Marquette shot a 320 in the second. Rock Bridge won with a 298 team score.
“Forest Hills always plays tough,” Schweain said. “I don’t care if you are a member there or playing it for the first time. It is a great challenging course and a perfect fit for a tough high school sectional.
“I think our boys felt pretty good about our chances of moving on from sectionals. Two teams advance and I felt it was pretty even after Rock Bridge.”
Sophomore Jack Cronin and freshman Tyler Linenbroker each shot a 78 at the sectional to tie for seventh place. Freshman Chris Kreh came in 11th with an 80. Freshman Blake Henry Mazzola shot a 84 to come in 19th place. Senior Jaden Nilsen shot a 90 to finish 30th.
“I am happy with the 320,” Schweain said. “If you can get four players to average shooting an 80 (par 72) you are usually in pretty good company. Rock Bridge continues to impress me with their ability to score well on multiple courses. A 300 means the four scores that counted averaged a 75. To shoot a 298 is even better.”
Cronin has been battling an injury this spring.
“Jack is getting back to his freshman form. He was a state competitor that had a great freshman year,” Schweain said. “He had to fight through a wrist injury early this season so it has taken him some time to get back to 100 percent.”
Linenbroker continues to impress Schweain.
“Tyler is one of our talented freshman players that has done an outstanding job throughout this season,” Schweain said. “He has a great deal of experience in tournament events from his childhood and has really come on strong in the second half of this season.”
The other two freshmen also played well, Schweain said.
“Chris played well most of the day and struggled a little at the end of the round,” Schweain said. “Blake, on the other hand, didn’t play very well on the front 9 but really did great on the back nine. All three freshman players are doing great.”
Nilsen had one of those days on the golf course everyone experiences from time to time, Schweain said.
“As you know, it is hard to stay consistent with one’s golf game 100 percent of the time,” Schweain said. “Jaden has carried us through most of this season and unfortunately did not play well, for his standards, at Forest Hills. That is the true beauty of team golf; after he carried us through most of the season, his teammates came up big for him and extended his senior season.”
Earning a trip to state is great for this group, Schweain said.
“I think the newness is still settling in for them but this will be a great experience for all of them,” Schweain said.
Playing the course in Kansas City will a new experience for the Mustangs.
“I have never been at Swope before. I have heard it has a lot of rolling hills and blind shots,” Schweain said. “We are going to work on uneven shots today at practice and target practice. I believe that will help us reach success.”
The field is impressive, according to Schweain.
“Jackson is really good out of southeast Missouri,” Schweain said. “Chaminade has done really well the last few years at the state level. Obviously Rock Bridge has achieved a great deal of success. Glendale has been a state power for some time. Jefferson City has a lot of tradition. Rockhurst is really good out of the K.C. area and Liberty has been playing well lately.
“I think Rock Bridge, Jackson, and Glendale would probably be the favorites but it will come down to who handles things well on the biggest stage. I hope our young guys play like they are capable of playing and our experienced players help them prepare for a great tournament, we could compete.”
Reaching state and doing well has given the Marquette program prominence. Schweain said it’s all about the players.
“I have always relied heavily on upperclassmen passing the torch of success that we have experienced at Marquette,” Schweain said. “We are developing quite a run of talented players that play the right way.”
Schweain wants to see his Mustangs experience success at state and have something to show for it.
“I am hoping we can come away with some hardware,” Schweain said. “The top four teams are awarded with such a treasure.”