May 13, 2014 | 04:27 PMThe Big Foot boys golf team won the Rock Valley Conference title on May 10 at the RVC conference tournament at Riverside Golf Course in Janesville.
Big Foot finished second at the tournament, but needed only to finish higher than Clinton to secure the conference championship. Clinton took fourth at the Conference tournament.
The team scored 33.5 points in conference competition this season, finishing ahead of second-place Clinton, who had 32.
Big Foot's Kyle Shoger had the team's low score with a 78, Craig Halma shot an 80, Ben Bauer had an 84 and Jason Maki scored a 96.
"This was one of the more competitive years (in the conference)," Big Foot head coach Bob Sullivan said. "Pretty much it came down to Big Foot and Clinton. This is the closest it's been in the years that we've won. I think this is four out of the last five now ... It wasn't as comfortable as it was in the past."
With the conference title under its belt, the golf team competed again on Monday afternoon while hosting the Abbey Springs Invitational at Abbey Springs Golf Course in Fontana.
The Chiefs took fourth place in a meet that lasted close to eight hours when severe weather conditions halted play for more than an hour and a half.
Shoger led the Chiefs again with an 84, Halma and Maki both scored 85 and Bauer had an 89.
"We were relatively happy with that," Sullivan said. "Other than the rain it was a really nice day for golf, and the way some of those kids were moping around, I figured they're all going to shoot 100. But the four scores that we kept, we were in the 80s with all of them."
Sullivan said that the fourth place is a good "lead-in" to the team's two-week break before state regionals.
"The guys know what they need to work on and we'll work," Sullivan said.
Big Foot had a team score of 343 at the meet, just seven strokes behind first-place Badger High School.
Sullivan said he reminded his team that a six or seven-shot difference means that each player shaving off less than a stroke per nine holes (on average) could have won them the Invite.
"That's a hard thing in an individual sport to get that team concept across," Sullivan said. "Even when your wheels are falling off ... hanging in there, you're going to end up winning it for the team."
Sullivan said he was pleased with a conference championship and the season overall. He said his expectations for the team's performance "changed pretty dramatically" since December — one of his top golfers left the school, and he wasn't sure if his team was deep enough to handle the change.
"Somebody had to step up and Ben Bauer really stepped up," Sullivan said. "He ended up making first team all-conference, as did Craig Halma and Kyle Shoger."
First-team all-conference honors are given to the five golfers with the lowest season averages in the conference.
"I expected Maki, Shoger and Halma to play (well)," Sullivan said. "You always hope for consistency. That never seems to come in high school golf, but (Bauer) was the biggest surprise. He went 45-39 on Saturday which was huge."
Bauer is only a freshman, and Sullivan said he expects big things from his young golfer in future seasons.
"I think we'll continue to improve," Sullivan said of his team and Big Foot's golf program. "We've got two weeks to get ready for regionals and hopefully we can play our best golf as we go into the second season as they say."
The Chiefs will compete in the state regionals on May 27 — the meet's time and place have yet to be determined.