SALEM — After getting in to sectionals by the skin of their teeth, the Effingham Flaming Hearts' season came to an end Saturday at a loaded Salem Sectional. All 12 teams were separated by just 26 strokes, and seven teams were within 10 shots of advancing via the third spot at Salem Country Club. Effingham was one of those team, finishing eighth with a 330. Centralia won the sectional with a 311, while Springfield (317) and Sacred Heart Griffin (320) advanced to state as teams."Anybody could have won it, I think we were very capable of advancing," said Effingham coach Jeff Schafer. "I didn't feel like we did (play to our talent level)."In addition to the team advancements, no Effingham player made it to state as an individual with a logjam in that race as well. A 76 was the highest score to advance, and Effingham's best score was an 80 from Jackson Wendling. Jake Linders shot an 81, Callaway Smith shot an 82 and Brandon Dahnke finished the Hearts' scorecard with an 87.It was a disappointment for Schafer and the Hearts in their third straight sectional appearance. "Today was pretty disappointing, when we take step back and look at this, it will sting," he said.Reed Schafer shot an 88 and Sean Sandifer carded a 90 in non-scoring efforts. It was a big season for the Hearts, winning their first conference title in 16 years and advancing to sectionals again. In addition, they lose no one for next season, as Wendling, Linders, Sandifer and Dahnke are all juniors and the oldest golfers on the team. "We have one of the best players in the state in Jackson Wendling, Jake Linders played great this year (and) Callaway was awesome his freshman year," Schafer said. "Sean came up big in some huge shots for us and Reed made huge strides for us this season. Brandon had a 39 for his first nine holes at sectionals and has that to build on."We had a great season and should be very hard to beat next year."
RESULTS1. Centralia 311, 2. Springfield 317, 3. Sacred Heart Griffin 320, 4. Massac County 323, 5. Mt. Carmel 328, 6. Glenwood 329, 6. Mascoutah 329, 8. Effingham 330, 9. Troy Triad 330, 10. Columbia 332, 11. Althoff Catholic 335, 12. Marion 337Effingham: Wendling 80; Linders 81; Smith 82; Dahnke 87; Schafer 88; Sandifer 90Advancing individuals: Patton (Lanphier) 70; Howerton (Herrin) 72; Rendleman (Murphysboro) 73; Simpson (Benton) 74; Buente (TT) 75; Johnson (Highland) 74; Barker (Col.) 76; Hunt (G) 76; Tolliver (Salem) 76; Beavin (Salem) 76