MATTOON — Scott Dow stood in the crowd of coaches, players and families gathered outside the pro shot at Mattoon Country Club, awaiting the public announcement of the inevitable news he and his players already acknowledged still in suspense because of the sheer accomplishment of it.
He just wanted to hear it, to see it in writing one more time.
Regional tournament host and Mattoon coach Bob Lockart obliged. He stood on the stage in front of the leaderboard and bellowed that Dow’s Charleston golf team won the regional, defeating Mattoon on a fifth-score tiebreaker after the top four from the both teams tied at 334. Charleston’s No. 5 golfer, Jackson Becker, shot 91 to edge out Mattoon No. 5 scorer Perry Curtis’ 96.
Dow pumped his right fist. It was undetectable except for anyone standing near him. The statement his team made, though, was obvious to everyone. In his first year as the Trojans’ head coach, in the enviable but still challenging position of replacing a revered figure and defending a state title, Charleston offered proof that 2019 was a retooling and reloading year. That the other “R” word — rebuild — was never accurate, not even after losing the four seniors who carried the team to consecutive Class 2A state championships.
“I knew we would have a pretty good team, but we turned out to be a little deeper than I thought one through six,” Dow said. “They were pretty bunched today.”
The Trojans advanced to their own sectional, set for Monday morning at Charleston Country Club. Mattoon did too, and third-place finisher Paris will join them. The Green Wave earned their ninth straight trip to a sectional, while Charleston is going for the fourth straight year.
Blake Wolfe won the individual title with a 77, two strokes ahead of Paris' Luke Bradley. He sank a short putt on the No. 18 green to ensure Charleston kept its tie with Mattoon and therein the win because of Becker’s lower score.
Technically, the day came down to that putt, but every golfer on both teams could count strokes they wanted back or big shots they hit as contributions toward the end result, for better or worse.
“I told them every stroke would matter, and clearly, every stroke did matter,” Dow said.
Wolfe hit his first tee shot out of bounds on the final hole. He hit another with a penalty stroke straight down the fairway, put his next shot on the green and sank the putt.
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“I knew I had to make bogey or better,” Wolfe said.
For Mattoon, the 334 is a 26-stroke improvement from its first match of the year. A 360 in that first tournament was surprising for a team returning four of the top six from last year’s sectional team, but Lockart remained steady in his belief the score would decrease, and fast.
“I saw where there was going to be progression,” Lockart said. “When guys start shooting a higher number, that quick improvement can happen.”
Meade Johnson had the Green Wave’s lowest score at 81. Blaine Powers (85) Colton Romine (85) and Stewart Druin (86) were the other counting scores. After Curtis’ 96, James Shamdin shot 101.
“Our three, four and five spots have sort of taken turns,” Lockart said. “Today it was our two freshmen. I’m tickled to death from the 82 out of Blaine and the 85 out of Stewart.”
Other area scores
Arcola scored 360 as a team to finish fifth out of nine teams. Alex Kuhns (88) and Derek Tuttle (89) advanced as individuals.
Mount Zion’s Cole Purdeo shot 88 as is going to sectionals as an individual. The Braves shot 371 as a team to place eighth.
Effingham’s Tate Niebrugge (85) and Aiden Beck (83) advanced as individuals.
Class 1A regionals
At the Class 1A Okaw Valley Regional, Sullivan captured the team title with a combined score of 348. Monticello (357) and Shelbyville (407) also advanced as a team. Redskins golfer Drew Rodgers was the medalist with a score of 79. Individually, Cody Dodson from St. Teresa advanced to sectionals with a score of 83. Also advancing were Zachary Rogers (Bement), Austin Karbach (Pana), Logan Ashley (Central A&M) and Luke Rogers (Bement).
Effingham St. Anthony won their own Class 1A Regional with a combined score of 313. Oblong also advanced as a team with a combined score of 355, good for a third place finish. Advancing as individuals were Tyler Stonecipher (Altamont), Trey Huisinga (Casey-Westfield), Kevin Hall (Altamont) and Cole Johnson (Robinson).
Advancing as individuals at the Class 1A Alton Marquette Regional were Vandalia golfers Chase Laack, Jacob Schaal and Riley Ruckman.
Contact Patrick Engel at (217) 238-6856. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickEngel_