By Jon Gremmels Herald Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — KEWANEE, Ill. -- There was little for Clinton to complain about Saturday on the second day of the Mississippi Athletic Conference boys golf tournament.
The River Kings trimmed six strokes off their first-day score on a gorgeous day at Kewanee Dunes Golf Course. The only negative was that all but two other schools also shaved strokes off their scores, and one of them -- Davenport Central -- played well enough day to pass the River Kings in the team standings.
“Our goal was to improve certainly from yesterday, and we did that,” Clinton coach Paul Niedermeyer said. “We wanted to move up and catch North Scott, which obviously we didn’t do. The fact (was) that Central overtook us, but they did what we wanted to do -- shoot that 330 round or something like that.”
The Blue Devils shot a 331 on Saturday for a two-day 683 total, moving into seventh place ahead of Clinton and its 349-343--692 total.
“That was disappointing for us, but that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes,” Niedermeyer said. “All we can do is put this behind us, and we’ve got a couple of meets coming up ... learn from this, look for improvement and see what happens the rest of the season.”
Senior Ryan Rursch said: “I’m sad to see the team didn’t place as well as we should have. Everybody in the MAC knows that we’re a better team than what we finished up today, but that’s golf, I guess.”
Rursch showed the greatest improvement Saturday. After an opening-round 93 on Friday that didn’t even figure into Clinton’s total, he came back with a team-best 83 on Saturday.
“Last year (on the same course), I didn’t shoot as well the first day, and I came back the second day and shot pretty well, so I thought today I could do the same thing,” he said. “I was just looking for something a little better than an 83, but I guess walking away with an 83 wasn’t the end of the world. ... I didn’t deserve to walk off with any hardware, but I thought I played pretty well today.”
Rursch pointed to four holes that were keys for his second round, which began on the seventh hole. One of them came right away.
“Eight,” he said. “I doubled it yesterday but ended up with a birdie there, so that was a three-stroke difference there. My second shot was about three feet away, so I made a real good second shot.”
He also parred three of the first four holes he played when he came back to the front side late in his round.
“I had a couple of key pars,” he said. “On No. 1, I made a good putt there. Three, I made a good putt there. Four, I saved another par there. Those three pars were a boost of confidence.”
Rursch credited improved play with his irons and a better mindset for shaving off so many strokes.
“I kept my short game under control today,” he said. “Yesterday I kind of let it get out of my hands and let the course beat me. I putted a lot better today. I felt a lot more confident today. Yesterday, I kind of gave up halfway through the round, which didn’t help much. Today, I didn’t give up; I kept battling through and good things happened. I shot 10 strokes better.”
Freshman Jake Luett was the only Clinton scorer who shot higher Saturday than Friday, but he still led the River Kings with a 27th-place finish. He followed up an opening 81 with an 89.
“Jake kind of got frustrated and didn’t have a good round today, but he hung in there,” Niedermeyer said.
“The way I played yesterday, a couple of the mistakes I made on some holes were minor and cost me a couple of shots, but otherwise I had a fantastic round,” Luett, who started the second round on No. 8, said. “Today, I didn’t start off very well. I had a couple of triples and a double. I couldn’t get going. It was tough out there. (But) I was one under for the last four holes. I just grinded for the last few.”
Luett wasn’t expecting it to be easy, though.
“The final day it’s set up to challenge the players and see how they can compare themselves to the first day and see if they can hit different shots to different locations and see how they play,” he said. “I think today was a lot tougher than yesterday, especially the greens. I think the greens were a little faster. ... You want to stay below the hole. Otherwise you’ll have a downhill putt and it will be really fast.”
All in all, Luett said his first conference meet just made him eager for another.
“It makes want to keep on practicing, keep on playing, keep on doing the best I can because I know if I keep doing that I’ll become a good player,” he said after spending time on the drive range after his round. “That’s what I want to be.”
Junior Koby Cleary had Clinton’s second-lowest two-day total, an 88-85--173 total that tied him for 30th place. He recorded the team’s second-best score each day. Rursch tied for 33rd, while fellow senior Justin Tomona was 37th with a 91-86--177.
“It’s not how I wanted to play, but it’s not that bad,” Tomona said. “My long game was a lot better today, but my short game kind of got switched.”
Bettendorf’s Mitch Elkins, the first-round leader, matched his opening round by shooting a 1-over-par 73 on Saturday to win medalist honors with a 146. Teammate Brett Gaydos fired the best round Saturday, a 2-under-70, that left him in second place with a 149.
Juniors claimed the top three places, and there were only three seniors in the top 10.
MISSISSIPPI ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
BOYS GOLF TOURNAMENT
1. Bettendorf 307-297--604; 2. Muscatine 318-317--635; 3. Pleasant Valley 329-314--643; 4. Burlington 330-317--647; 5. Davenport Assumption 323-336--659; 6. North Scott 333-336--669; 7. Davenport Central 352-331--683; 8. Clinton 349-343--692; 9. Davenport West 356-346--702; 10. Davenport North 375-372--747.
1. Mitch Elkin (Bet) 73-73--146; 2. Brett Gaydos (Bet) 79-70--149; 3. Erron Vandemore (PV) 77-74--151; 4. (tie) Alex Pohlman (Bet) 74-79--153, Mrshal Lamb (PV) 81-72--153; 6. Jaden Carey (Mus) 77-78--155; 7. Rayce Miller (Mus) 79-77--156; 8. Jared Hoelzen (Bur) 81-77--158; 9. Alex Grell (Bet) 84-75--159; 10. Max Gogel (DA) 78-82--160; 11. (tie) Ryan Solt (Mus) 81-80--161, Jace Mueller (Bur) 83-78--161; 13. Brian Peterson (Bur) 83-79--162; 14. (tie) Cory Hughes (NS) 78-85--163, Peter Hutton (Mus) 81-82--163, Jay Morgan (NS) 80-83--163; 17. (tie) Zach Blizzard (DW) 81-83-164, Louis DelVecchio (DC) 85-79--164.
Note -- Top six receive first-team all-conference honors, next six placers earn second-team honors and those in places 13-18 are designated as honorable mention.
CLINTON -- 27. Jake Luett 81-89--170; T-30. Koby Cleary 88-85--173; T-33. Ryan Rursch 93-83--176; 37. Justin Tomona 91-86--177; T-43. Aaron Henry 89-92--181; 47. Jordan Ready 92-95--187