Just one stroke separated first place and second place at the Saint Ignatius Invitational on Tuesday.
On a cloudy day at Red Tail Golf Course, following a very stormy Monday evening, the Wildcats' varsity golf team emerged as the victors with a score of 302.
The Wildcats' team score bested St. Xavier and Archbishop Hoban by a mere one stroke, granting the Golf Cats the team trophy and the Jesuit Cup.
"It just shows how we've improved as a team," said junior Ross Williamson. "In my years here, we've never won this. It's always been St. Xavier or St. John's, etc. I think we really have a shot to win a state title this year, so that's what's been shown."
As Williamson said, the young and talented Golf Cats have confidence and talent at the start of the season, a good omen for blue and gold. Two titles in as many days to start the season can't be a bad thing.
Williamson topped the team on Tuesday with a score of 73, a 39 on the front nine and an exceptional 34 on the back nine. Williamson barely missed out on medalist honors, as Reece Yakubov of St. Charles took the title with a 72. Even still, a score of 73 on such a difficult course is nothing to sneeze at.
"If you hit the ball straight off the tee, the course will reward you," Williamson said. "I hit the best tee shots I have on any course this year so far. Being in the fairway every time rewards you and allows you to hit it on greens."
Nick Longano also enjoyed a banner day, finishing with a 37 on both the front and back nines for a total of 74. After earning his spot on the varsity squad with an impressive display at tryouts, Longano has demonstrated that he belongs.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Longano said. "I hit a lot of greens today and yesterday, too. My putting wasn't great but I turned it around on the back nines on both days. It worked out."
What's the key for Longano on the back nine?
"Just going to a different mindset. Thinking you're going to birdie, getting a number in your head, like one under par or two under par or even, whatever your number is, to beat what you shot on the front nine," Longano explained.
Andrew Kaye scuffled some at the start, but also found a new gear over the final stretch. The junior shot a 41 on the front nine and a 35 on the back nine, totaling a 76 on the day.
Freshman Topher Reed and Jake Moraca also turned in solid scorecards at Red Tail, penciling in 79 and 82 for the Wildcats.
Tomorrow, the Wildcats will look to duplicate the great day of golf at Shale Creek Golf Course. The men of Brian Becker '77 will take part in the Walker Jones Classic in the morning.
As Becker told the Cats, the team cannot rest on its laurels, as the competition will be ready to battle Saint Ignatius every day. Longano realizes the importance of composure on the course.
"Composure is always important, because when you see your teammate walking down the fairway, and you see they're in a good mood and happy, that gets you in a good mood and wanting to play well," said Longano.
The Wildcats' JV Gold followed the lead of the varsity squad on Tuesday, beating out several varsity teams, including the school's rivals from Lakewood.
Connor Warns led the efforts for the Wildcats. The junior's final score of 79 topped the JV Gold squad and showed off the depth of the program. Andrew Martin and Zach Hazard, playing together in a foursome, shot an 80 and 81, respectively.
MJ Myers showed off his talents with a 83, including a nice 40 on the front nine. JR Leedy tallied an 89 and Matt Giberti notched a 93, while Jess Saunders withdrew from competition due to an injury.
As a team, the JV Gold squad took seventh with a team score of 320. Coach Tom Beach's boys will have a couple days off before participating in the Tannehauf Invitational at Tannehauf Golf Club in Alliance.
Here are the full team scores:
1. Saint Ignatius (Varsity), 302
2. St. Xavier, 303
T-2. Archbishop Hoban, 303
4. Saint Charles, 310
5. Walsh Jesuit, 314
6. Bishop Watterson, 318
7. Dublin Jerome, 319
8. Saint Ignatius (JV Gold), 320
T-9. St. Edward, 326
T-9. Alter, 326
T-9. Archbishop Moeller, 216
T-9. Strongsville, 326
13. University School, 334
14. Saint John's Jesuit, 335
15. Van Buren, 340
16. Rocky River, 343
17. Westlake, 348
18. Gilmour Academy, 363
19. Padua, 371
20. Avon Lake, 375