Leading the charge

Monday, May 7, 2007
file photo St. Vincent's Zach Richardet hit off the number two teebox at Bent Creek Golf Course on Monday at the Notre Dame Invitational. (Fred Lynch)

Nerves and rain helped do in St. Vincent golfer Zach Richardet on day two of the state golf tournament last year.

Richardet, now a senior, was one of four golfers tied for third place, six strokes off the lead at 4-over-par 76, after the first round at Island Green Golf Course. A second-round 84 pushed Richardet into a tie for 11th overall, but still earned the junior his first all-state medal.

Now, following a district title in Class 1 District 1, Richardet will get another shot at a state title when the Class 1 state tournament gets under way May 14 and 15 at the Rivercut Golf Course in Springfield.

"My feeling after last year was I felt I accomplished what I wanted to do heading into the season, and that I knew I wanted to do better next season," Richardet said.

The experience of last year's up and down tournament should be a positive for the three-time state qualifier. Richardet got to feel the high of a low-round, the struggles of handling pressure and how to handle wet conditions.

Zach Richardet coaxed a drive at Bent Creek Golf Course during a tournament earlier this season. Richardet, medalist at the recent Class 1 District 1 tournament, will make his third trip to the state tournament when St. Vincent competes for the state title next week in Springfield. (Fred Lynch)

"The conditions were a lot worse [the second day]," Richardet said. "Some of the shots weren't there for me and I just got nervous a little bit. I think it will help me having experience. I was more nervous that second day because I saw I was in position that second day last year to have a chance to do it."

St. Vincent has never had an individual state champion, although the Indians have won two team titles. Richardet is not putting any pressure on himself to become the first.

Instead, he will simply try to shoot low scores to help his team. The Indians will bring their whole team to the state tournament this year, after having just two qualifiers last year. This is the first time St. Vincent has brought five golfers to state since finishing third in 2002.

"I just want to do my best and see what happens," Richardet said.

Richardet showed his form at the district tournament, shooting a 76 for medalist honors. Senior teammate Corey Brueckner was right behind with a 78. The two are used to finishing near each other. Brueckner finished one stroke behind Richardet at the state meet last year, shooting an opening-round 77 and an 84 in round two.

The two have taken different routes to state success. Richardet started golfing at a young age, while Brueckner was much newer to the game heading into high school.

"I knew Zach Richardet when he was young and I have known he'd develop into a good golfer since about the sixth or seventh grade," longtime St. Vincent coach Tom Prost said. "Corey Brueckner was new at this, and I didn't see his development into a good golfer until 10th grade."

Prost said he saw Brueckner playing at a course the summer before his sophomore season and admired his swing from afar, not realizing at the time it was Brueckner.

"Corey, he struggled his freshman year," Prost said. "Then all of a sudden it popped up. It just seemed like he turned on a lightbulb that next year."

Brueckner and Richardet each made the trip to the state tournament as sophomores. St. Vincent qualified four individuals that year and finished seventh in the team standings. Brueckner shot a 167 to tie for 29th, while Richardet shot a 180 to tie for 59th.

Those scores dipped to 160 and 161 for Richardet and Brueckner last year. Brueckner finished tied for 13th. All but two players that finished ahead of Richardet and Brueckner were seniors.

"They've seen the competition, it's not like this year's going to be better than last year," Prost said. "It's basically the same year to year with 20 or so good golfers. They've seen they can play [with them], and they know they want to be in that top 20 places so that second day they have a chance to make a move."

This season Brueckner has had to play catchup after missing much of the early part of the season due to a broken thumb. With his playing partner back in tow, the friendly competition between Richardet and Brueckner can take its final high school stage at the state tournament.

"We usually compete [together]," Richardet said. "We'll be talking with each other after every hole. We're always trying to beat each other. It's a fun competition we have."

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