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.”