Boys golf: Orion Yamat, Anthony Calderone provide Maine East with 1-2 punch
Maine East's Anthony Calderone pops his ball onto the green during their golf match against Glenbrook North on Wednesday, Sept. 7th. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:44PM
PARK RIDGE — Maine East golfer Orion Yamat’s rookie proved a success on many different fronts.
Yamat, who was just 13 years old after skipping a grade, became the first Blue Demons golfer in a decade to reach sectionals. He also helped the team to four dual-meet victories, after going winless the previous season.
Yamat’s success also appears to have had additional benefits for the school’s golf program, including from a marketing standpoint.
“We tasted some success and people in the school heard about it, whether from newspapers or the (school) announcements,” Maine East’s eighth-year head coach Tony Montesano said. “I think it made students realize there really is a golf team here. In May, when I posted a sign-up sheet for this season, I got more sign-ups than any other previous year. I had about a dozen and normally I get one or two.”
Montesano pointed out that just because golfers signed up did not guarantee they would be present for tryouts, which began this week. But the implication was clear — Yamat has been good for Maine East golf.
Yamat’s freshman season was highlighted by his first-place medal at the eight-team Grant Invite and a third-place finish at the 30-plus-team Fenton Invite. The youngster’s low score was a 74. Though the incoming sophomore didn’t advance to the IHSA state meet, Montesano said a trip to that event appears to be in Yamat’s future.
“I think state is a good possibility,” the coach said. “Now, he has the experience and knows what the (postseason) competition is all about. I know he was disappointed that he didn’t go to state. But he was only a freshman, and to make it as far as he did ... . I know he’ll have his eyes on the prize and will want to go (to state). If it falls through (this year), then as a junior or senior he almost certainly will go.”
Yamat appears to be entering the high school season in good form after a solid summer. In late June, he finished 11th at the Illinois State Junior Amateur, in Barrington, where he registered a hole-in-one on a 164-yard hole.
Montesano said consistency is the key to Yamat’s game.
“A lot of people ask me what he needs to improve, and I don’t have an answer for that,” he said. “Most of the time he’s hitting fairways with his tee shot, is on the green with his second shot and then two-putts. They are not fancy shots. He’s just hitting the ball straight and putting it where he wants it.”
The coach said Yamat’s drives should only increase distance as he gets older and stronger.
“But this is not a longest drive contest,” Montesano said. “He proves that if you keep the ball straight, you can score well on any course.”
The presence of fellow sophomore Anthony Calderone, the team’s No. 2 golfer last season, ensures Maine East will have a solid one-two punch for years to come.
Seniors Alex Kniezuk, J.J. Farley and Matthew Boetsch also return and are expected to round out a solid top five.
With Yamat and Calderone scoring consistently at the top of the lineup, Montesano said the key to success will be the other golfers’ ability to raise their game.
“We’ll always take those two scores, so we just need two more guys out of the remaining six to have a really good day,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll have those good days, and if the other team is having a bad day, all of a sudden, we’ll have a few more victories.”