By Lenny Sementi
Jayden Gaines showed some nerves this past week on Tuesday the 18 in Tuscola boys golf team opener verse Champaign Centennial. The squad’s number one from a year ago settled in after a few tough holes to start at University of Illinois Blue Course. Gaines and returning letter winner Landon Banta both tallied pars on a pair of holes leading a young group out onto the course.
Banta tied with Brayden Gough both carding 50’s in a loss to the larger school. Gaines was a few strokes back, ending the day with a 52 while freshman Nate Thomason checked in as the coach Toby Rings fourth scorer with a 53. Braden Boyer toured the course as the alternate. “Being their 1st time out this year, I think they were all a little nervous. I saw a lot of tight swings to start but after getting a few holes under their belt, all the nerves went away,” stated the coach. “I know we have some strokes to shave off our scores, if we could eliminate 10-12 strokes to start with, once we get comfortable we should be in contention or even win most of the teams we face from here out.”
Gaines was 10-strokes better the next night as was the team but it was not enough as the Warriors fell to Meridian Hawks 184-190. He opened and closed his round strong pairing number one, a long par four on the way out and then did the same on number eight and nine to cap off a solid 42 claiming medalist honors in the meet. Banta also improved firing a 48 which included a par on the fifth hole. Boyer and Thomason each pared a pair of holes delivering matching 50’s to round out the team scoring. Gough wasn’t far behind serving as the alternate with a 53.
“I felt really we had a good chance to take a match against Meridian with the boys. We fell just a few short strokes but left a bunch of shots out there,” commented the coach. “Our short game is improving and the errand shots are becoming less of a problem. When we make that turn, I think it will snowball for us.”
Makenna Fiscus took home medalist honors on the girls side in the Meridian match. She backed up her hardware hauling effort a few nights earlier at the Blue Ridge invite with a 48 to take top honors in the dual meet. Marley Good was next checking in the with a 50. Freshman Isabelle Wilcox delivered a par on the second hole of her career to be the third scorer ending her day with a 54. Another first year player Zoey Thomason rounded on the team tally with a 56 as the Lady Warriors collected the win while Addisyn Pettry took part in her first competition as the alternate.
“The Girls played very well for their first team match of the year,” coach Ring said. “Makenna and Marley played earlier in the week, but we haven’t played together as a team yet, so some of our young talent had been out competitively. They can be even better, it’s just a matter of teaching them how to limit their strokes around the green and understand how to manage the course. We will be tested in our next team event against Shelbyville at Eagle Creek Resort. That course is long and is a challenge just to walk it let alone play it.”