NORMAL - Playing at state for the first time in winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour, Vandalia junior Blake Swofford didn't flinch.
Swofford had two birdies and just one double-bogey in shooting a 5-over 77 to put him in a tie for fifth after Friday's first round of the Class 1A Boys State Golf Tournament at Prairie Vista Golf Course in Bloomington.
"He started on the back nine and about put his first tee shot into the drink, but after that he settled down," Vandalia coach Brandon Taylor said. "After that, he played pretty calm and relaxed. We'd talked about the wind during his practice round and on the range - about keeping his drives and approach shots low. He was able to do that and the wind didn't push him around as much."
Swofford will begin today's second round six strokes off the lead, but just one stroke out of third.
"He put himself in good position to hopefully at least stay in the top 10," Taylor said. "He went in hoping for top 20 - so far, so good."
Bismarck-Henning sophomore Andy Bott leads in Class 1A with a first-round 71, and has helped the Blue Devils to second-place so far as a team - two strokes behind leader Winnetka North Shore Country Day.
Effingham St. Anthony is 23 shots behind the leader in fifth place - five strokes out of third. The Bulldogs got solid days from Dalton Anderson and Zach Bradshaw - each shot 82 and are tied for 33rd. St. Anthony's No. 1 golfer heading into the tournament, Joe Powell, shot an 85 and is tied for 52nd.
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LSA's Hunter York hung around the top 20 all day before bogeys on his final two holes gave him an 82 - tied for 33rd.
Casey-Westfield, which is 10th out of 12 in the team standings, was led by Avery Murphy (84, tied for 46th) and Brandon Glidwell (85, tied for 52nd).
Heffley handles wind
Monticello's Drew Heffley didn't have a birdie but had no worse than a bogey in shooting a 6-over par 77 to put him in a tie for 11th after the first round at the Class 2A State Tournament at Weibring Golf Club on the campus of Illinois State University,
"He struggled early with his driver a little bit, and Weibring is a pretty tight course," Monticello coach Andrew Turner said. "He was able to get out of the early trouble he got into by saving some pars and bogeys and eventually settled down. He had a pretty good score considering the winds were unbelievable. We wondered how he'd react to the pressure of playing state for the first time, but he's one of these kids who is able to stay confident and not get caught up by things."
Mattoon's Kris Heller is two strokes behind Heffley with a 79, tying him for 20th.