BLOOOMINGTON — Trailing entering the back nine, Effingham St. Anthony turned it on at the right time.

The result was the Bulldogs' second state championship since 2009. They beat Port Byron Riverdale by six strokes at Prairie Vista Golf Course.

It was St. Anthony's fourth state under coach Phil Zaccari, who has been the Bulldogs' coach since 1999.

"I am very happy for the seniors — they put a lot of time in it," said Effingham St. Anthony coach Phil Zaccari. "They were clutch down the stretch, like you would hope seniors would be. This bunch is pretty special and it is just good to see them happy that they finished the way they should."

The Bulldogs team was comprised of seniors Luke Ludwig, Ben Strullmyer, Zach Wortman, Nathan Schultz, along with juniors Jayden Rios and Luke Flaig.

"Winning state was definitely one of our goals," said Strullmyer. "We knew we had a chance with four seniors and four returning varsity players. We were pretty confident the whole season and we just kept rolling."

Ludwig led St. Anthony, which also won in 2001, 2002 and 2009, with a 40 on the front nine and a 36 on the back nine for a total of 76. He finished third overall, in a tie with Sullivan senior Caden Ellis. Ludwig is the first St. Anthony golfer to place in the top three since 2002 when Mike Imburgia won state.

"I didn't play as well as I would have like today," said Ludwig, who was hoping for the individual title. "I had a little hiccup on No. 14 (double bogey), but I came back from it and I am happy with my finish."

Sullivan finished fifth as a team with 337. The Redskins were competing in their first state meet since 1979 when they earned third place.

"We knew we could play with those teams and we came out and had a pretty good front nine, but on the back nine had a couple of bad holes.," said Sullivan coach Ben Richter. "We came out here saying we wanted to finish in the top five and we did that. This team has been great and I have just been really proud of them all year. They will be talking about this for a long, long time. The teams we lost to this year are state champions or finished in the top four. We hung with the best of them and they should be proud of themselves and I am glad because they put in a lot of hard work."

Strullmyer finished in a tie for 10th, earning a medallion and all-state honors along with Ludwig. It is the first time since 2010 the Bulldogs have had two players earn all-state honors (James Jensen was eighth and Michael Koester was 15th).

"To have two in the top 10 is really cool and exciting," said Zaccari.

The fact that St. Anthony was at state last year helped.

"We knew the course really well," said Wortman, who shot an 84, good for 37th place overall.

Friday was supposed to be the first of two days of 18 holes, but it was canceled due to snow. Saturday's round was the only one played.

That was a crazy experience" said Wortman. "I will never forget that the snow coming down. It was an awesome experience."

Ellis shot a 38 on the front nine and the back nine, while Leighton Burcham shot a 41 on the front and a 44 on the back for an 85, good for 45th place. Drew Rogers finished with an 86, good for 49th, and Tim Lawyer shot a 90, good for 65th place.

Ellis missed by a stroke of earning all-state honors last year, placing 12th.

"I wanted to win, but it is nice knowing I was third in the state," said Ellis. "it was nice to have the team here. The team is awesome. Fifth place as a team is awesome. It was nice to hang out with them at the hotel and I will cherish the memories."

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Contact Mike Monahan at (217) 238-6854.


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