It was a long time coming.
A long, long time, in fact.
But the Magic boys golf team finally got to celebrate like champions on Monday afternoon.
For the first time in at least seven years, the Monti boys finished first at a golf meet – giving head coach Brian Hoffman the first championship of his tenure.
“It’s a kick,” said Hoffman, shortly after the Magic wrapped up the championship at the 19th Annual Daryl Gunnarson Annandale Invitational. “The kids didn’t play their very best and they know that, but it was a team win. I’m just very proud of them.”
Monti posted a team score of 330, edging the host Annandale Cardinals by just two strokes at the 14-team invite. Dassel Cokato finished third with a team score of 334.
Hoffman said it was a relatively challenging day at the Southbrook Golf Course.
“It was really windy there today,” he said. “It didn’t play very easy.”
Monti survived on the strength of balanced scoring. Luke Frucci led the Magic with an 80, the eighth-best individual round at the meet. All of Monti’s top four golfers made it into the top-20 at the invite. Tyler Anderson finished second on the Magic and tied for tenth at the tournament with an 82, while No. 1 golfer Alex Allen posted an 83. Senior Jaden Jarmuzek wrapped up the Monti scorers with an 85.
Hoffman found out the Magic had won when he caught a glimpse of the score-sheets on a table, before the official results were announced. He then walked over to deliver the message to the team.
“I said, ‘Boys, I’m pretty proud of you today,’” said Hoffman. First, the team asked if it was because Frucci finished in the top-10. Hoffman said he did, but there was more.
“They said, ‘What, are we in the top 3?’” said Hoffman. “I said, ‘You’re better than that.’”
Allen, just a sophomore but a key member of the program for several years now, said it was a special day.
“It was great, really a great experience,” he said. “It was really great to be a part of that.”
Frucci, who has paced the Magic at a couple of big meets recently, said Monti has known for a while that they have this type of potential.
“We’ve had the mindset that we can definitely win a tournament,” he said. “And we finally did.”
The junior was a big part of that, and has been a big part of much of Monti’s success so far this year. Yet, Hoffman said you would never know it on the course.
“Luke is always mysterious,” said Hoffman, after Frucci led Monti to Monday’s win. “He doesn’t always like to tell me exactly where he’s at. He’s got a good poker face.”
Last Tuesday, Hoffman said Frucci appeared rather grumpy on the course at a Mississippi 8 meet. When his round was over, Hoffman found out he had posted a season-best 76, good enough to tie for fifth-place at the meet.
Frucci’s effort helped pace the Magic to a 313 team score at the meet, their best in Hoffman’s tenure. That was good for a second-place finish at the 10-team Mississippi 8 mid-season meet at Bulrush Golf Club. STMA won the meet with 293 strokes, while Monti finished one stroke ahead of Buffalo for second place.
Allen and Alex Shaw both posted 78s on the day to give Monti three players under 80. Keith Holme rounded out Monti’s scorers with an 81 at the meet.
Hoffman has been high on the potential of his squad for some time now, but he admitted that even he was slightly taken aback by the round at Bulrush.
“I’m not going to lie to you, it took me out of the water,” said Hoffman. “I was so proud of them. And that kind of a low number? I was so tickled.”
At the same time, he believes it is where the team now has the potential and capability to hang around at. They’ve shown they have a bevy of guys who can get into the 70s and low 80s range, it is just about getting them all there on the same days.
“This crew all can do that,” said Hoffman. “If they just put things together, we’re going to be OK when we get to [the section meet].”
The Magic appear to be well on their way to doing that, and Allen said he believes part of that is due to how Monti’s focus has really reigned in during the past few weeks.
“As a team, we’re taking it more seriously,” he said. “We’re seeing how much potential we have.”
The best proof of Monti’s potential is that some of their best meets recently, including Monday’s win, have come without a couple of their best players in the lineup. On Monday, Monti was missing Holme and Shaw, who had to stay back to take important tests. At the pre-section meet on Thursday, where Monti finished ninth with 353 total strokes, the Magic were missing three of their top six golfers.
“School is first,” said Hoffman. “It says a lot about their character.”
Now to go with that character they have growing confidence. Already a confident bunch, Frucci said that Monday’s championship will only further Monti’s belief in itself.
“It definitely gives us a lot of confidence,” he said. “It’s going to feel a lot better going into the next tournament.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]