PONTIAC — To say that Wednesday was a red-letter day for Seneca would be grossly inappropriate, considering the results.
Make that a green-letter day and you’d be closer to the mark.
Noah Quigley, AJ Stiegler and Austin Marshall captured the second, third and fourth places in the final individual standings to lead the Irish to a wild, come-from-behind victory over Roanoke-Benson at the Tri-County Conference Meet at the Pontiac Elks Club Golf Course.
Seneca trailed by as many as 11 strokes late in the rain-soaked front nine, but pulled things together through a dry but windy back nine to escape with a 386-393 decision over the Rockets.
Marquette placed third at 407, followed by Putnam County (444), Midland (445), Woodland (456) and Henry-Senachwine (458).
The Lady Irish made it a sweep behind Rylee Stenzel. The junior’s score of 87 gave her medalist honors, leading the SHS ladies to a 464-514 verdict over Roanoke-Benson, the only other league school to field a full team.
Putnam County got a team-best and sixth-place 100 from all-conference pick Chris Uzella for its fourth-place total. Josh Jenssen chipped in a 109, Gavin Cimei a 113 and John Wiesbrock a 122 for PC.
“We didn’t do as well as we wanted to do,” PC coach Sydney Eustice said, “but with four freshmen, this first conference tournament was a good experience for them. It was tough, but they all had their moments.”
Seneca coach Bryan Erickson used the iwanamaker app to track the team scores by hole and told his players after a rough first nine holes they were “still in this thing.”
“I told them that the conditions were changing and if they could stay with it and be happy with bogey golf on the back, we had a chance,” said Erickson, “and sure enough, things started going our way. Multiple guys for us shot better in the wind. Maybe because they concentrated more or maybe they didn’t want to turn in two bad nine-hole scores, I don’t know, but we turned things around and came out on top. It was a great comeback in pretty tough conditions.
“Rylee played well, had all parts of her game working today and had a fantastic round. An 87 in these conditions was outstanding … Whether you’d consider it a girls championship or not with only two teams, we were the best today, the best two best teams in the Tri-County Conference.”
Noah Quigley fired off a 46-45-91 to place just behind the 88 by R-B’s DJ Norman in the race for medalist.
Stiegler trimmed his back nine by five for a 50-45-95 and Marshall dropped12 strokes for a 55-43-98. Those performances, along with points earned for their regular-season efforts, earned them all a spot on the all-conference team, along with teammate Holden Flynn.
Owen Quigley added an 11th-place 102 for the Irish team total.
“In conditions like this, with the wind blowing 30 miles an hour, I’ll take second any day,” said Noah Quigley. “The biggest adjustment was clubbing up or clubbing down for the wind. I just tried to stay aggressive … and we really turned it on as a team in those last few holes. We’re pretty happy about it.”
Stenzel shot a 40 on her opening back nine, and though she struggled with the wind in her finish, she proved ready for next week’s regionals, as did teammates Laura Yegge with her runner-up 108, Mallory Sobokowich at 133 and Addison Stiegler at 136.
“I could have done better on my last nine, but the wind just beat me today,” Stenzel said. “My drivers and my irons were working and when they didn’t, my putter was saving me. I feel pretty good about my day.”
Marquette’s lone female, Kaitlyn Magoonaugh, had a rough day, finishing with a 112 that was still third among the ladies.
The Crusaders boys didn’t have anyone under 100, which was the seventh-best individual score by sophomore Carson Zellers, but their scores were well-clustered, with an eighth-place 101 by all-TCC choice Grant Waldron, a 10th-place 102 by Luke Couch and a 104 by Tommy Durdan.
“Surprisingly, my driver and putter were working well for me today. They don’t always,” said Zellers. “I actually feel like I could have done a little better, but with the conditions, it was OK.”
For a consistent Woodland group, Nick Hoekstra was a surprise leader with a 111, while Nolan Bressi and Carter Ruff each contributed a 114 and Glen Ruff and Mason Sterling each a 117.
“We got a couple of holes in where it was decent, then it just erupted into a miserable day to play golf,” said Warriors coach Melissa Ruff. “The kids did a good job taking it in stride, especially considering the conditions today. They’re all around their averages and I’m pleased with that.”
Sophomore Ayden Malavolti was unhappy with his Henry team-best 102, even though it placed him ninth and completed his all-conference season. His was followed by Mason Johnson’s 112, a 117 by Gavyn Nave and a 127 by Nolan Dunshee for the Mallards.
“The greens were faster than I’ve been used to and the wind was pretty bad and it was harder to judge,” said Malavolti, “so I didn’t do very well in the rain and the pressure. It was hard, but I should have done better.”