KEWANEE, Ill. – The Clinton boys golf team wrapped up the Mississippi Athletic Conference tournament on Saturday afternoon at Kewanee Dunes Golf Club, and even though they weren’t competing for a title they came away with victories.
“We’re not at the level where we’re competing for a championship, but you have to show progress,” Clinton head golf coach Jason McEwan said after competition wrapped up. “It’s just pride in yourselves that you’re going to work hard enough that you’re going to get better at this game as the season goes on. With it being our best team score, it means everyone did well.
The River Kings shot their lowest team score of the year on Friday, then bettered that score by two strokes Saturday.
“Both days were really good, and I’m super proud of the kids. Shooting the lowest score of the year at the MAC conference ... I was proud of their effort.”
The team finished 9th on the day, beating Davenport West and finishing just one stroke away from beating Davenport North as well.
They faced adversity on both days. Day 1 featured a lot of wind and a unique phenomenon in the air.
“It was really windy,” McEwan said. “The conditions were a little worse than we’ve been playing in. The course actually has a corn field right next to it, and they were harvesting yesterday. The wind was coming from that directions ... all the husks were blowing all throughout the course. It was like it was snowing, but corn husks.”
Day 2 had the team missing one of their higher scoring athletes – Ben Wittenauer. With Wittenauer out, the team still managed to put up their best team score of the year.
“He was one of our better golfers, so we were missing one of our best scores,” McEwan said. “We shot three strokes better than yesterday even without that, so that’s a positive for sure.”
Brody Manemann and Sabir Akiti both finished with scores of 94 on Day 2, placing them in the top 40 of the field. Manemann improved his Saturday score by four strokes from the previous day.
“Golf is one where you have to have the right attitude coming into it,” McEwan said. “If you get upset about one bad hole, it could ruin your whole round. Brody just moves on to the next thing and there’s something to learn from that for golfers. Don’t let a couple bad swings ruin your round.
“He hasn’t even played until this year, and now he’s one of our better golfers.”
Jaiden Busse came in with a 98. Both Akiti and Busse shot their lowest rounds of the entire season.
Connor Busse and Kaleb Luckritz had scores of 105 and 107 respectively.
Head coach Jason McEwan just took over the boys’ program in the last couple of years and is in the process of a program transformation. He’s happy with the improvement he saw this year, his second year of coaching, and he knows it will continue. The first step is increasing participation in the sport.
“When you take over a program, it’s like it’s nothing you did to it the people are already there,” McEwan said. “This year, I felt we boosted our numbers a little bit and I think that’s going to be important for us. We want enough kids to come out so that there’s competition on your own team.”
Clinton isn’t done with their golf season yet, leaving more improvement opportunities to look forward to.
The team golfs at Springbrook Golf Club to take on local foe Central DeWitt on Tuesday afternoon.
“We try to make it exciting and fun. When you go into a meet knowing you’re not going to get one of the top places, you have to find something to motivate them to improve. Everyone has challenges – I just have to have kids who want to come in and prove to people that we can do this. That’s what is great about sports, there’s always something to learn whether you’re at the top of the heap or the bottom of the group.”
BROKAW LEADS SABERS
The Central DeWitt boys’ golf team came away with a high team finish and a top-ten finisher after wrapping up the Mississippi Athletic Conference tournament this weekend.
The Sabers finished in third place as a team with 688 team points. Pleasant Valley won the tournament with 615 and North Scott was the team runner-up with 667
Jacob Brokaw was the top finisher for Central DeWitt, placing sixth overall. Brokaw shot an 83 on Day 1 and rounded out with a 78 performance on Day 2, including two birdies on the back nine to finish out the day.
Nathan McGarry finished with an 86 on Day 2, while both Ben Alger and Colton Sullivan shot 88s. The Day 2 scores helped the Sabers move from fifth place, where they sat after the first day of play, to their third place finish.
Central DeWitt hosts Clinton on Tuesday afternoon.