Meade Johnson is back and healthy.
And that’s great news given the horrific leg injury that he suffered last winter in a holiday basketball tournament in Effingham. That he had Johnson was lost after Christmas due to a horrific leg injury. That he returned to play for the basketball team before the season ended was remarkable. Johnson also played baseball for American Legion Post 88 this past summer.
The Wave’s returning No. 1 golfer said that the injury healed after about eight weeks.
As golf season arrives, Johnson says he is “100% healthy.”
“When golf opened back up, I just kept playing and tried to keep myself busy,” said Johnson. “We have an opportunity as a team this year to be strong. Nothing can stop us from winning some big things.”
Johnson is one of two returning Apollo Conference selections and one of five returning golfers from a Mattoon squad that qualified for the state tournament. Along with Colton Romine, James Shamdi, Blaine Powers, and Stewart Druin, Mattoon tied Charleston in the IHSA regional tournament, but lost the tiebreaker.
In the regional, Johnson shot a team-low 81, while Powers, now a sophomore, carded an 82 followed by Romine (85) and Druin (86). Then, at the sectional, Shamdin bounced back from a score of 101 to place as the team’s fourth best score.
“Last year, it was nice to have,” said Johnson. “You know that every match there is one person who can back you every day. Each time, there’s an opportunity for someone to post the best score. If we can string those days collectively together, we have a really good golf team.”
Unfortunately, there is a lot of uncertainty and change going on in the world with fall sports. Golf is just one of four sports taking place this fall, as approved by the IHSA. Larger invites, including the infamous 77-team Mattoon Invitational, are likely cancelled.
That means teams will have to rely on smaller meets with continued uncertainty that there will even be a postseason.
For now, Johnson and his teammates are going to focus on the present.
“We are pretty used to playing in big invites, but we know that can’t happen, so we just have to go out and make the best of what we can,” said Johnson. “There are better things like conferences and a regional championship if we can play in those.”
Along with COVID-19, there is another change in Mattoon. For the first time in 16 seasons, Bob Lockart will not be the head coach. A former assistant, Bill Behrends, is back in the district and will take over duties.
However, the team does not see this as a major move, even though they will certainly miss their former head coach who was 159-34 in dual matches.
“Coach Lockart was always that guy we were comfortable with,” said Johnson. “We turned to him for advice, but we all know who Coach Behrends is. He is someone we will build trust with and soon be comfortable with him easily.”