BLOOMINGTON — Tied after the opening day, Effingham St. Anthony and Mount Carmel entered the second day of the Class 1A State Boys Golf Tournament ready to go to war.
The second round at Prairie Vista Golf Course in Bloomington was a battle with St. Anthony powering ahead during the front nine, giving the Northsiders some breathing room. That was good because Mount Carmel fought back on the second nine as Coach Phil Zaccari's crew didn't fare as well.
But St. Anthony held together for a six-stroke victory over Mount Carmel for its third state title. St. Anthony tallied 620 followed by Mount Carmel 626, Rockford Lutheran 629, Winnetka North Shore Country Day 638, Catlin 650, Benton 658, Raymond Lincolnwood 663, Macomb 672, Peoria Christian 674 and Rock Island Alleman 674.
"We accomplished our final goal of the season by winning the state championship," said Coach Zaccari. "Friday's round was more about surviving the conditions rather than playing golf and we did a good job putting ourselves in position for Saturday's finale. The conditions improved for Saturday and we started out on fire which probably sent waves through the tournament.
"We were making pars and birdies and the other teams started making bogies. The back nine, however, was a different story as we started to stumble on the middle holes. The team got things corrected down the stretch though to hold on for the win.
"It is great to win a state title and these guys deserve it. They have put in long hours practicing and preparing for this, so I am really excited we could finish the journey successfully."
Medalist for the state meet was Raymond Lincolnwood's Shane Convery with a 144 total. Kyle Gunther of Peoria Christian and Steve Souchek of Waterloo Gibault Catholic finished tied second with a 148 each,
St. Anthony's Kit Koerner finished fourth with a 149 as he was the rock for the Bulldogs with a front 36 and a back 39 for a 75 on the day. Also competing for the Bulldogs were Michael Koester with a 39-38 — 77 for a two-day 157, Lewis Martin with a 36-42 — 78 for a two-day 157, Michael McHugh with a 39-40 — 79 for a two-day 161, Derek Rohlfing with a 44-37 — 81 for a two-day 162 and James Jansen with a 40-47 — 87 for a two-day 165.
"Kit had a really good tournament, stepping up both days to put us in the hunt Friday and help us win Saturday. He started Saturday three under after three including an eagle on No. 3. He was in the hunt for individual medalist but a hiccup on 13 and 14 dropped him to fourth. His birdie on 16 slammed the door on our team championship.
"Lewis, a senior, continued his consistent play, improving one stroke from Friday to Saturday. He kept the ball in play both days and narrowly, I mean an inch, of getting a hole-in-one on the tough par three No. 5.
"Michael Koester, a junior, played steady in the tough conditions Friday, but then really stepped it up Saturday, improving three strokes to help lead the way. Being the third score in for us, he helped set the table for the guys to follow.
"Michael McHugh, a junior, improved on last year's performance Friday, but then really stepped up Saturday, improving by three strokes. After his 79, our last three players were in the middle of the back and they seemed to relax and finish their round strong.
"James, a junior, negotiated the tough conditions Friday to help us get into position for Saturday's final round. He struggled Saturday, but the rest of the guys picked him up.
"Derek, a senior, was disappointed with his performance. A couple of his decisions came back to bite him. He did not finish No. 18 well Friday and Saturday his 7th and 9th holes hurt his score. He did show solid leadership by not giving up after his front 9 and played the back side at one over par to finish his career on somewhat of a high note.
"As a team, our depth helped us. Our scores were pretty close to each other as we stayed consistent. For our seniors, this is a great end to a very productive career. Derek and Lewis get to finish their golf career as a state champion. For our juniors, it is an opportunity to defend their title and do something really special next season."
Mount Carmel was led by Tucker Guisewite with a 153, Jared Paddick with a 153, Christian Seaton with a 160 and Shane Witsman with a 161.
The championship is the third for St. Anthony as it won back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002. Up to this point, the St. Anthony seniors, Rohlfing and Martin, had been on teams that finished second, fourth and third.