MOREHEAD St. Henry wasted little time in establishing itself as a team to beat in Friday’s Eagle Trace Invitational. And the Crusaders never let off the pedal as they captured the season-opening tournament for KHSAA boys golf with a 20-stroke victory at the par-72, 6,502-yard Eagle Trace Golf Club.
“We got off to a nice start. One of our players, Mason Butler, was three under through three (holes). (He) held that together until about the 15th hole and finished with a 73 today. It was a really nice round for him,” said St. Henry coach Jared Cahill. “To get off to a start like we did on those first few holes is really nice. There are some tough starting holes and they really kept it together, so I was really proud of them.”
The Crusaders not only started well, they finished well. The team shot a 299 and all six players, including the one competing as an individual, all went below 80 and finished in the top 20.
As an indication of how well things went for St. Henry, freshman Kevin Tobergte posted a career-low 75 in his first high school tournament.
“Shooting 299 here makes me very happy as a coach. They really held it together,” Cahill said. “A 299 is a pretty good score for us, 11 over par.”
Cahill credited his squad’s unity as a driving force in performing well.
“For me, it’s about the team aspect. All five of them play as a team. They all care about each other. They are constantly asking about how each other is playing,” he said. “I think for me as a coach, that’s what I look to the most is the team camaraderie. How we enjoy being together on the golf course. There is no one man who carries the whole ship.”
Montgomery County finished in second with a 319, followed by Greenup County (322), East Carter (358), Russell (362), Madison Southern (375), Mercer County (384), Paintsville (394), Ashland (394) and Elliott County (421).
A total of 16 teams entered at least one individual in the 63-player field.
Lee County’s Zach Watterson posted the low round with a 4-under 68. He opened with a birdie on 14, parred the next six holes before posting a two on the 152-yard, par-3 third. Watterson never shot above par on a single hole, while also birding the fifth and the 13th.
After he finished, Watterson and his coach drove directly to Richmond to compete in another tournament.
Montgomery County’s Logan McCormick was one stroke back of Watterson with a 69.
“I didn’t really hit it off the tee well, but I hit my irons well. I made a couple pretty good par saves (and) I had two or three good putts,” he said. “On No. 1, I hit my tee shot in the water, but dropped out and hit it 2 to 3 feet from the hole and then putted for par. That was probably my best hole and it kept my round going.”
Although perennial power Montgomery County, which finished sixth at last year’s state tournament, graduated three of last year’s top four players, McCormick kept the Indians near the top of the standings on Friday.
“The team played pretty well, about as well as expected, so that was pretty good,” he added.
McCormick was pleased how he started off the season.
“Over the winter, me and my swing coach changed my swing a lot. I got to play in a lot of tournaments this summer. I’ve got a lot of big goals for myself this year, so to start off today with a 69 is very good,” McCormick said.
Several squads return today to compete in the Greenup County Invitational at the Hidden Cove Golf Course in Grayson. Ashland, Boyd County, East Carter, Elliott County, Lewis County, Manual, Morgan County, Rowan County, Russell, St. Henry and West Carter are scheduled to join Greenup County in the 12-team field.