For senior golfers Michael Holtz and Drew Sobol, it’s hard to believe their fantastic four-year prep careers are over.
Holtz of Marquette Catholic and Sobol of East Alton-Wood River achieved much on the golf course. Their stellar games earned them the AdVantage News Co-Boys’ Golfers of the Year honors.
Holtz became the first multiple winner of the award after winning it outright after his junior campaign.
“Being AdVantage News Player of the Year was a big moment,” Holtz said. “No one in boys’ golf has gone back-to-back Player of the Year and that was a big goal of mine going in. I really wanted to go back to back, especially senior year; that was a big cap.”
But there were plenty of other big moments for the Explorers’ senior and his teammates this year. Marquette won both the 2A Roxana Regional and Mattoon Sectional championships, titles at the Alton Tee-Off Classic and Catholic Tournament and small-school titles at the Madison County Meet and the Dick Gerber Invite.
Holtz was medalist at sectionals (72) at the Mattoon Golf and Country Club and the Dick Gerber Invite (68) at Oak Brook Golf Club in Edwardsville. The medalist at sectionals was important to him.
“The biggest tournament was sectionals,” Holtz said. “That’s been my elusive tournament for my four years and I felt I finally captured that one.”
The Explorers advanced to the 2A state tournament at Weibring Golf Course in Normal for the second year in a row and finished in seventh place again.
It wasn’t the finish the team imagined, but was a nice recovery from a first day that had them sitting in 10th place.
Holtz had a tough two days, shooting 167 with an 83 Day 1 and an 84 Day 2. It left him tied for 64th place individually. While it was tough to swallow, Holtz understands state didn’t define him or his teammates.
“It’s hard not to look on that biggest tournament at state, but you’ve got to look at the big picture and look at all the things we accomplished, all the tournaments we won, all the great rounds we had,” Holtz said. “One tournament doesn’t define you. Some people say the biggest tournament can define you, but when you had as much success as we had I don’t think it can define an entire season, I think it just defines two days and two bad days doesn’t make a season.”
Holtz now moves on to play collegiately at Division III Wesleyan University in Normal. He’s excited, but he’ll miss Marquette and his Explorer teammates, who are his best friends. He’ll always be rooting for them.
“I’ll support them,” Holtz said. “Once an Explorer, always an Explorer.”
Sobol says goodbye to a stellar career with the Oilers, too. He holds the school record for medalist wins in EA-WR history and closed out his senior year on a torrid pace.
“It was a really good senior year,” Sobol said. “I was medalist 15 out of 17 events, which was pretty impressive. The school record was 15 in a career and I ended up with 35 or 36 in my career. I finally got over the hump and qualified for state and once you qualify you set more goals. I wanted to place and then after the first day I’m playing for a state title. I fell short, but I wouldn’t want to trade any of it.”
It was Sobol’s first appearance at Weibring as an individual and after Day 1 he was shooting 73 and in a four-way tie for first place. He shot 38 on the front and 35 on the back.
It became the most special moment of his high school career, being his final prep season and the final year for his dad, Dave Sobol, as EA-WR’s head coach.
“It was probably the best feeling I’ve ever had in sports,” Sobol said. “Last year in wrestling I took fourth in state and we’re sitting there talking and laughing and hugging and nothing topped it. But (state golf) topped it. Just after the first day seeing him smile and say, ‘You know you’re in the lead, right?’ It was awesome for him to be able to experience it with me.”
He said he “felt like Jordan Spieth” after that first day at state. Unfortunately it didn’t hold up, as Sobol finished with an 81 on Day 2 for a total score of 154, ending in a tie for 14th overall.
“The second day I got a little aggressive and I was looking to win instead of playing for pars,” Sobol said.
Now he will leave the Oilers behind and continue his golf career at Division II McKendree University and he’ll have some company.
“I visited the campus and just fell in love with the school,” Sobol said of McKendree. “Then shortly after that they offered my dad an assistant coaching position, which is even cooler knowing I have another four years with him.”
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