Overnight thunderstorms gave way to unforgiving heat on Monday to welcome the start of fall sports with hot and humid conditions.
For the Edwardsville boys and girls golf teams, it was time to get to work.
Both teams are playing in the Prep Tour Showcase later this week. The boys will head to Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club in La Salle on Thursday and the girls will play at Hickory Point Golf Club in Forsyth on Friday. The latter is the site of the Class 2A girls golf state tournament.
“We’re always the first sport to kick off the season every year,” EHS boys golf coach Adam Tyler said. “Most of these kids have been playing all summer. It’s just a little bit of a transition to be going into a team atmosphere. They’re picking up where they left off.”
It’s a quick start to the season for the boys, who will play in La Salle on Friday and then at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington on Friday for the Lincoln-Way West Invite.
The quick turnaround includes two days of tryouts, which started Monday at Fox Creek Golf Course. On Tuesday, Tyler hosted an 18-hole qualifier at Oak Brook Golf Club to finalize Thursday’s lineup.
The Tigers do return a host of underclassmen, including sophomore Carter Crow. He qualified for the sectional last season.
Also back from the regional lineup at Oak Brook Golf Club are sophomores Kolton Wright, Bennett Babington and Drew Suhre.
On Thursday, Edwardsville will team up with Benton, Mater Dei, Effingham St. Anthony, Macomb, Normal U-High, O’Fallon and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin to make up the South.
The North teams include El Paso, Hinsdale Central, Lemont, Lockport, Ottawa, Port Byron, Saint Viator and Wheaton North.
Lockport finished sixth at the Class 3A state tournament in 2019, just ahead of Hinsdale Central. Mater Dei won the Class 1A state championship that season.
It will be a shotgun start at noon.
Edwardsville finished 11th in the tournament in 2019.
Tyler said a loaded field awaits his team Friday, as well, in Bloomington.
“In the first two weeks, we’re going to see the best teams in the state,” Tyler said. “On Friday, we will see a lot of teams in our sectional.
“Since it’s such a short season, you have to get going right away.”
The girls team started tryouts Monday at Oak Brook Golf Club and will conclude Wednesday.
EHS girls golf coach Libby Koonce is hoping to have a lineup for Friday figured out before the end of tryouts.
“It’s a very short tryout and we’re only going to have enough time for nine holes each day. The 27 holes are going to help me figure out my varsity lineup starting lineup,” Koonce said. “I have a vague idea of the lineup, but that doesn’t nail anything down. When you do have upperclassmen back that you know can put up the numbers, it makes it less of a challenge.”
Fortunately for Koonce, Edwardsville returns a strong core from last year’s team that qualified for the Class 2A Champaign Centennial Sectional. That includes defending sectional champion and two-time Southwestern Conference champion Nicole Johnson.
Also returning for the Tigers are senior Grace Daech and sophomore Caitlyn Dicks. Though she didn’t golf in the postseason due to COVID protocols, senior Morgan Landry also returns with experience. ‘
“We have three girls returning that played in the postseason, so that’s going to be solid. We also have Morgan back and she would have played last year and played well,” Koonce said.
At the Prep Tour Showcase, the Tigers will team up with Marquette, Effingham St. Anthony, Normal U-High, O’Fallon, Quincy and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin to make up the South.
The North teams will include Barrington, Hinsdale Central, Joliet Township, Lockport, Naperville Neuqua Valley, New Trier, St. Viator and Stevenson.
Stevenson is the defending state champion, holding off runner-up Barrington by one stroke in 2019.
Shotgun start will be at noon.
Edwardsville finished third as a team in 2019. Johnson finished 12th, along with then-teammate Riley Lewis, and Daech finished 18th to lead the Tigers.
Both returning EHS players have eyes on a stronger finish at the tournament this season.
“I’m interested and excited to see what’s going to happen Friday,” Koonce said. “It’s not going to be a definite window into what our season is going to be, but I think it will be a good sneak peek of what we’re capable of.”
The girls will also play Saturday in the Alton Kick Off Scramble/Shamble at Rolling Hills Golf Course. Tee-off is at 2 p.m.