Effingham's depth up and down the lineup has been key all season for the Hearts, with any of their golfers capable of shooting a low round.
It was the fifth man that kept their season alive Tuesday, as Sean Sandifer broke a tie with Salem to give Effingham third place at the Mt. Vernon regional and the final team spot in Saturday's Salem Sectional. Both Effingham and Salem shot 328s, finishing behind Centralia (316) and Troy Triad (326). Sandifer's 89 was better than Salem's Will Fulkerson and his 92, keeping the Hearts' season alive until at least Saturday. Not only was Sandifer ahead of Fulkerson, sixth man Brandon Dahnke finished with a 90 in 36th, besting Salem's fifth man as well."Sean Sandifer said to me, 'After I shot 47 on the front, I could hear you saying, "Keep playing, keep playing, your score might count,"'" said Effingham coach Jeff Schafer. Jackson Wendling took third overall after winning last year's Effingham Regional, shooting a 77 overall and finishing behind medalist Austin Buente from Triad (73) and Centralia's Tylor McDaniel (76). While he didn't win the individual trophy, Wendling had some heroics of his own. Wendling made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, pushing the Hearts into a tie with Salem as the Hearts' last man on the course. He placed his approach 25 feet below the hole, and sunk the huge putt to tie up the regional. "He came up big time like a big time player has to," Schafer said. "He didn't know the situation, but on the 18th tee, I told him to make two good shots. We knew that would tie us with Salem." Jake Linders tied for sixth overall with a 79. Freshman Callaway Smith came in 19th for Effingham with an 85 and sophomore Reed Schafer carded an 87 for 25th place. The Hearts move on to Salem Saturday, where they will look to lower their scores and make a push for a trip to state next week."We got strong leadership from the top three, and our other three guys chipped in, we got really good play from our last three guys," Jeff Schafer said.Salem's 328 came was made up of Robbie Foreman's 78, Joe Tolliver's 80, Sam Beavin's 83 and Nathan Williams' 87.