Yes, the boys golf is good in the North Shore Conference, but the guys at the top are starting to show off a little bit.
Though Cedarburg won the latest nine-hole mini-meet at Tripoli on May 2, the race, which is at the halfway point, is still too close to call. The Bulldogs lead with 24 combined points, while Whitefish Bay has 23 and Homestead 221/2. As far as the weekend tournaments are concerned, these teams just take their turns beating up on everyone else.
Behind UW-Green Bay recruit Patrick Sicula, Bay won the 24-team Kaz Invitational at New Berlin Hills on a windy and rainy April 30 day, while the day before, Nicolet, which sits a competitive fourth in the league race, swept the top three individual places and dominated the 11-team Port Washington Invitational at Hawthorne Hills.
And on April 27, Homestead finished a strong fifth ahead of Bay in the 26-school Brookfield Central Skins Invite at Wanaki, as the Highlanders' Robbie Morway was individual medalist with an 18-hole score of 73.
Sicula said everyone has to keep improving if they want to win the North Shore title; no one can afford to stand still.
'When I was starting out a few years ago, we were finishing third and fourth,' he said. 'Last year, we moved up to second, but now Nicolet is moving up, and it's making it really interesting.'
'You just have to be on top of your game if you want to win this,' said Nicolet coach Dan Gibbon, 'because that's the ultimate goal. Have a good showing at conference and sectional.'
Cedarburg struck the latest blow in that direction, shooting a nine-hole score of 154 at Tripoli, as Bay took second with 161 and Homestead Grafton tied for third.
Sophomore Matt Comiskey tied for individual runner-up honors for Bay with a 37, while Sicula was right behind him with a 38 and Gus Grunau came in with a 40.
For Homestead, Max Pasher and Joey Hobbs each carded 40s, and Matt Gresham came in with a 41.
Nicolet, which was fifth in the meet, was led by Ben Spector with a 39, but no one else had below a 43.
With three different winners in as many mini-meets, Bay coach Frank Donadio agreed that the NSC race is anybody's guess.
'It has been close all season,' he said.
Just as the Blue Dukes win was at the Kaz on the windy and wet April 30 day.
They managed the conditions well enough for a one-shot win, 323-324, over Lake Geneva Badger. Sicula led the way with a 77, good for a tie for third, while Grunau came in with a 79, Comiskey 81 and freshman Owen Jonas 86.
Donadio was impressed that the Blue Dukes were able to come away with the win despite no one on the team having played the course before and with the fact that the team, like everyone else in the area, had to manage cold and wet conditions all week.
'All week, we played in close to winter-like conditions (definitely winter-like for me) with temperatures in the low 40s each day with wind chill numbers probably in the 30s,' he said. 'We shuffled 10 players throughout the lineups, and no one complained about the conditions.'
Sicula added, 'We weren't really thinking about (winning) this. It was difficult and cold, and the greens were running really fast. Guys would hit putts uphill toward some holes, and it would roll right back to their feet. It was a little like mini-golf.
'But this was a good day. What I think made it the most fun was that we all played well. The trophy and stuff afterward, that was just a bonus.'
Homestead was also competitive at this meet with a 327 mark, as Morway came with a 78, and Pasher and Hobbs each carded 81s.
As for Nicolet, the Port Invitational was one of those great days. It was a 'play five, score five' 18-hole meet, and the Knights dominated with a 390 team total, as Grafton was a distant second with 422. If they had just scored the traditional four players, Nicolet's mark would have been an excellent 303, one of the best in school history.
Eric Walsh was medalist with a 73, while Spector came in with a 75 and August Eurich 76 for the first three individual spots. Mike Carruth came in with a 79, and Thomas Kozlovsky carded an 87.
The interesting thing for the Knights was that Gibbon had been out of school ill the previous two days so he wanted to get back to class that day to catch up. That meant a JV coach handled the meet in his place.
'I talked to my assistant right around the time of the last class (on the day) when they were supposed to be coming back,' said Gibbon, 'and he joked 'Oh, they have something to show you.' I had gone to Kirk's office (AD Krychowiak), but they were waiting for me in my office.'
They showed off the nice plaque and medals they won, and Gibbon was very pleased for Walsh, as there is a permanent plaque up on the wall at Hawthorne with all the meet medalists dating back many, many years.
'He can come back years from now, and that'll still be there,' Gibbon said.
Bay sent a second five to that meet and finished fifth with a 438 score as Jack DeRoche led the way with a 77, good for fourth individually.
At the Brookfield Central meet, under equally miserable conditions, Homestead's Morway was individual champion by two shots with his 73 in leading the Highlanders to a fifth-place total of 324. Marquette won with a 317. Pasher helped out Morway with a 79, while Ben Elchert came in with an 84.
Bay was right behind Homestead in sixth with a 326 as Comiskey came in with a 78 and Sicula a 79.