MATTOON — After the boys golfers finished playing the course on the second day of the Craig Dixon Invitational at the Mattoon Country Club, the teams gathered to honor the life of the former Mattoon coach. The Charleston Trojans placed fifth and the Mattoon Green Wave finished 11th in a 20-team contest. But the day was about much more than the final results.
Dixon coached Mattoon golf for more than 16 years and lost his 3-year battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) on Nov. 21, 2016. His wife, Deanna Dixon, addressed the crowd to say how grateful her family was to see the invitational named after her late husband.
“Craig had such a great passion for golf, but also a passion for Mattoon Green Wave,” Deanna said. “The past three years have been such an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s amazing an event like this could come out of something so negative.”
Debbie Davis, Mattoon’s assistant athletic director, said the district wanted to honor Dixon for his commitment to coaching and education. “We’re just honored that his family let us do this for Craig,” Davis said. “He was so dedicated to golf, the kids, sports and the community.”
Reflecting on the dedication to Craig Dixon, Mattoon head coach Bob Lockart said Craig was a “class act.” After their second day of the tourney, Lockart also felt confident that his team has time to improve since the season is still very young.
“I think a lot of teams can struggle at this course, so I’m not totally disappointed,” Lockart said. “We’ve just got to keep working.”
Mattoon’s Nic Nguyen was the top scorer of the team, finishing day two with a 79 and combined score of 155.
Charleston had a strong showing at the tournament. Edwardsville, a Class 3A school, won 597 score of the two days. Edwardsville shot a 292 at Meadowville on Friday and shot a 305 on Saturday. Normal Uni High was the top 2A school at the tournament with a 605 (301 on Friday, 304 on Saturday). Charleston had the second-best score of the 2A schools, with a 303 on Friday and a 326 on Saturday for a 629. The Trojans edged Morton, which had a score of 631.
Charleston junior Ben Lanman led the Trojans with a 2-day score of 151, placing eighth individually.
Charleston head coach Randy Harpster was pleased with his team’s score and set the goal even higher for next year. “I’m so proud of our kids; only one 2A school beat us today,” Harpster said. “Next year we will be expecting more. Hopefully we can come back and win it.”