SALEM -- Even though the Charleston boys’ golf team advanced to the Class 2A sectional, the regional score the Trojans put up wasn’t what they were used to.
After shooting below 310 for much of the season, the Trojans shot a 321 to finish in second at the regional, but the team knew another score around that range would leave Charleston out of the mix at the sectional.
On Monday at the 2A sectional at the Salem Country Club, the Trojans shot what they were capable of shooting. Charleston shot a 307 which not only earned the Trojans their first trip to the state tournament, it’s also the first ever-regional title in Charleston boys’ golf history, according to Stan Adkins.
Charleston coach Randy Harpster said it’s the score he knows his team is always capable of shooting.
“We are real excited about this. We’ve been averaging between 300 and 309, but to do it in a sectional, that’s pretty impressive,” Harpster said. “To have all six scores 85 or under, that’s really getting it done. They made a lot of great decisions on the course. They sacrificed, at times, their own individual score for the betterment of the team.”
Belleville Althoff finished in second place with a 309 and Quincy Notre Dame shot a 312 to claim third place. Mattoon missed out on state as a team with a 326, but Green Wave senior Nick Nguyen earned a trip to state as an individual with a score of 75.
For Charleston, the 307 was 14 strokes better than the 321 at the regional and it’s something the team focused on all week.
“One of the comments we made to the kids, that was probably a good thing it happened because it woke them up a little bit and made them realize we have to focus,” Harpster said. “We had a really good week of practice. On the front nine, it was the tougher side and we worked everyone over on the front nine. The tougher the hole, the better we played it.”
Charleston junior Keegan Gowin said the whole team was solid on Monday.
“For the team, at Effingham, we don’t know it as well and we got more practice here than we did at Effingham,” Gowin said. “We knew we had a bunch of teams that were really good at this tournament, so we had to put something low on the board.”
Gowin led Charleston with a 72, which was a 19-stroke difference from his score at the regional.
“He’s such a competitor and loves the crowd and the tough courses and loves to rise to the occasion,” Harpster said. “He’s a fierce competitor.”
Gowin gave a lot of credit to his team for getting him this far.
“My team carried me here, so I decided I needed to pick it up and contribute,” Gowin said. “My club selection last week in Effingham, there were some tight holes out there and I picked the wrong club and got into trouble.”
Ben Lanman shot a 76 for Charleston and Robert Rardin shot a 79. Preston Smith rounded out the scoring with an 80. Blake Wolfe shot an 83 and Zach Will had an 85.
“(Ben, Robert and Preston) our the veterans and they’ve led us a lot of the season,” Harpster said. “We’ve had great support from Blake and Zach at big times for us. It’s definitely a team and everyone of them have contributed all year long in matches.”
Nguyen led Mattoon with a 75 and it was good enough for the senior to qualify for state for the third time in four years.
“I felt pretty good. I didn’t strike my irons as good, but I putted really well and I drove the ball fantastic,” Nguyen said. “I can’t complain with how I played today, especially if it gets out.”
Mattoon coach Bob Lockart said it’s great to see Nguyen make it to state for a third time.
“He finished 11th as an individual at state last year and I know that he has a goal in mind and he’s work real hard,” Lockart said. “You look at his numbers all year long and he’s been so consistent for us. Today was another day of that. I am very proud of him.”
After Nguyen, Brock Moncel shot an 81 and Tanner Romine and Meade Johnson each shot an 85. Colton Romine shot an 86 and Gibson Moncel had a 104.
While the score didn’t get the Green Wave to state, Lockart was happy with how his team golfed on Monday with a 326.
“That’s where we’ve been all year long and last, winning the regional, we had that day. Today, we talked about it and we knew we had to put that next step together for another career day,” Lockart said. “We hung for a while, we just couldn’t finish it off. I am definitely pleased with this group. This season they’ve been consistent, great to work with and have gotten better. To make it here again as a team and keep the string going as a program, it’s been enjoyable and I appreciate all of the time and effort they’ve put in.
“Congratulations to Charleston. All year long they’ve been the best team from the central to the southern part of the state and they proved it today.”