WINDSOR — Four teams battled for the top spot at the St. Anthony Invitational Monday at Fox Prairie Golf Course in Windsor, and the Effingham Flaming Hearts were right in the thick of it.
When the dust settled however, Effingham was on the outside looking in, with its 311 falling just short of Carmi’s tournament-winning 309.
St. Anthony came in behind Effingham in fifth, although the Bulldogs’ 330 was outside of the two strokes separating the top four squads. McLeansboro also shot a 309 for second, and Mt. Carmel finished in third with a 310.
The Flaming Hearts had a number of golfers step up to open the season, but coach Jeff Schafer couldn’t get over how close the Hearts came to taking their first tournament of the year.
“Like I told the kids, I’m pretty happy and disappointed at the same time,” he said. “We got what we were looking for from the bottom of our lineup, but was still kind of disappointed.”
Jackson Wendling carded a 73 to tie for the team lead for Effingham, but the real surprise for the Hearts was freshman Callaway Smith.
Smith got out to a rocky start in his first-ever varsity event, finishing the first two holes 3-over-par, but rebounded nicely from there to tie Wendling for the team lead with a 73.
“I gave him a little encouragement, and told him to relax,” Schafer said. “He had a great round for us and helped us be competitive.”
Sean Sandifer also carded a career-best 80 to bolster the Hearts’ effort.
For St. Anthony, Garrett Hixenbaugh led the way with a 76 as the only Bulldog to finish under an 80.
Things started well for St. Anthony, but they couldn’t weather the storm as well as coach Phil Zaccari hoped when the going got tough.
“We started out really, really well and the kids were playing good going through the first nine,” he said. “When the bad holes came, and there’s always going to be bad holes... the kids need to learn how to handle it. We didn’t step up that way today.”
Connor Greene had an up-and-down day, shooting an 82 for second on the team. His round encapsulated the struggles the Bulldogs had on the day.
“His round was par, par, double bogey,” Zaccari said. “He came back from some battles, but he didn’t putt really well.
Nick Wortman and Jeff Niebrugge both shot 86s to finish out St. Anthony’s scorecard. Sam Wortman had a 99 on the day for St. Anthony.
For Effingham, Jake Linders shot an 85, Brandon Dahnke had a 90 and Reed Schafer finished with a 93.
Collinsville senior Keenai Sampson shot a 69 to earn medalist honors for the day.
St. Anthony carded a second team with its JV golfers, and they finished with a 389 on the day. Mitchell Sager shot a 91 to lead the second team, and Gus Koester carded a 94.
The Bulldogs get back at it today, traveling to Bloomington to play at Illinois State University.
Effingham is off for a week, getting back at it next Monday at the John Macek Invitational at Champaign Centennial. The Bulldogs will also compete there.
1. Carmi 309 2. McLeansboro 309 3. Mt. Carmel 310, 4. Effingham 311, 5. St. Anthony 330, 6. St. Thomas More 331, 7. Collinsville 336, 8. Tuscola 340, 9. Benton 343, 10. Murphysboro 343, 11. Robinson 349, 12. St. Anthony #2 389, 13. Bishop McNamara 389, 14. Decatur St. Teresa 419, 15. Sullivan 450
Effingham: Jackson Wendling 73, Callaway Smith 73, Sean Sandifer 80, Jake Linders 85, Brandon Dahnke 90, Reed Schafer 93, Michael Woltman 100
St. Anthony: Garrett Hixenbaugh 76, Connor Greene 82, Nick Wortman 86, Jeff Niebrugge 86, Sam Wortman 99
St. Anthony #2: Mitchell Sager 91, Gus Koester 94, Nate Schmidt 101, Jacob Schmidt 103, Ethan Greene 104, Niko Dust 119, Trey Koester 131