CHS’s Taylor Drake lines up a putt on the par-4 No. 6, where he made par Monday.

What a difference a week makes. Sort of.

Seven days ago, MHS junior James Shamdin struggled in the IHSA regional tournament held at Mattoon Country Club, shooting 102––unable to help the Green Wave win a tiebreaker for first place.

On Monday, he fired 39 on the front nine at Charleston Country Club, carded an overall 84 and posted the decisive score that gave Mattoon second place in the sectional and a berth in the state tournament.

“That says a lot about his stick-to-itiveness,” said Mattoon coach Bob Lockart. “Golf can be humbling and not kind at times. I’m really glad for him.”

Like at the regional tourney at Mattoon Country Club a week ago, Mattoon and Charleston again posted identical scores – a scenario that Charleston coach Scott Dow called “kinda crazy.”

Unlike last week, though, MHS won this tiebreaker thanks, in part, to Shamdin slashing 18 strokes from his score to record his best round of the season, good enough for 27th among 112 golfers. Freshman teammate Blaine Powers also shot 84.

“I enjoyed seeing both (local) teams do well,” Dow said.

Dow was not overly upset that the two-time defending state champion Trojans lost the tiebreaker and finished third behind Benton (313) and MHS because that was enough to reach a third successive state tournament, which will be held at Illinois State’s Weibring Golf Course in Normal on Friday and Saturday.

“Some people didn’t think we could get back to state,” Dow said. “But I always thought we would get back there.”

Mattoon reached the state for the first time in three years without any seniors. Junior Meade Johnson carded a 6-over-par 78, bolstered by an eagle at the 500-yard, par-5 No. 3. Junior Colton Romine and freshman Stewart Druin, meanwhile, each shot 80s.

Mattoon’s Colton Romine and Blaine Powers talk strategy with coach Bob Lockart at the No. 10 tee box on Monday afternoon.

Lockart said his team hit better off the tees and managed the course better. “To have four scores at 84 (or better) – I’m really pleased by that,” he said. “The kids were more patient and kept away from holes with big numbers. And we played really well on the front nine.”

Four Mattoon players registered scores below 40 on the more wide-open first nine holes, led by Johnson’s 37 and Romine’s 38. Druin and Shamdin each posted 39s.

Charleston matched those scores on the front nine, taking 153 strokes among its top four players. Drake shot even-par 36 while Blake Wolfe, Zach Will and Jackson Becker each carded 39s.

Like Shamdin, Drake overcame a big challenge earlier this season when he nearly lost his spot among the starting top six players. At the Fall Classic nearly three weeks ago, he resuscitated his game. Since then, Drake has been among the team’s top four golfers. At last week’s regional, Drake shot 86.

On No. 18 Monday, Drake finished strong after a fortunate second shot that flew over the green, into a tree lining the out of bounds and back onto the rough, where he hit a wedge to within 2 feet for an easy putt he converted for par.

“He’s really refocused since then (Fall Classic),” Dow said. “He has really played well. His teammates have been joking with him, telling him each week that his spot is not safe.”

Drake has also been playing practice rounds with regional medalist Blake Wolfe, who carded an 80, a few strokes higher than usual.

CHS’s Blake Wolfe tees off at the par-4, No. 4, driving to within 100 yards from the green. He then hit an approach shot onto the green and two-putted for par.

“I was very proud of Blake,” Dow said. “He’s been going out with Taylor and giving him tips. After the round, I told him, ‘See, you might have struggled, but Taylor shot your 79.’ “

Pierson Smith, who shot 87, eagled the dogleg-left par-4 No. 11 on the tighter, tree-lined back nine where his tee shot bounced off two cart paths and hopped onto the long, narrow green perched on a slight hill––about 15 feet from the hole. He drained the putt.

Team scores

1Benton313
2Charleston322
2Mattoon322
4Jacksonville (H.S.)325
5Carbondale (H.S.)326
6Highland332
7Centralia (H.S.)345
8Chatham (Glenwood)349
9Paris353
10Herrin (H.S.)354
11Jerseyville (Jersey)358
12Columbia360

Qualifying Teams

Benton

Cy Norman (Fr.)71
Brad Hammond (Sr.)76
Collin Miller (Sr.)81
Jared Shaw (Sr.)85
Brett Merkel (Sr.)90
Cole Brugger (Sr.)94
Mattoon High School golfers

Mattoon

Meade Johnson (Jr.)78
Colton Romine (Jr.)80
Stewart Druin (Fr.)80
James Shamdin (Jr.)84
Blaine Powers (Fr.)84
Perry Curtis (Sr.)98

Charleston

Zach Will (Sr.)77
Taylor Drake (Sr.)79
Blake Wolfe (Sr.)80
Jackson Becker (So.)86
Pierson Smith (Jr.)87
Josh Will (So.)92
Charleston High School golfers

Advancing individuals

Camren Ray (Jr.) (Medalist)Lawrenceville70
Brady Kaufmann (So.)Jacksonville (H.S.)75
Aydin Folker (Jr.)Jacksonville (H.S.)76
Isaac Hammet (Sr.)Marion (H.S.)76
Ian Davis (Fr.)Carbondale (H.S.)77
Jacob Collie (Sr.)Carbondale (H.S.)77
Dawson Watson (Sr.)Paris77
Jaxton Black (Jr.)Highland80
Evan Sutton (Jr.)Highland80
Garrett Wood (Jr.)Troy (Triad)80