Charleston’s Pierson Smith chips in from the rough on the 10th hole at the Effingham Country Club on Monday afternoon.  Smith went 4 & 2 on the back nine to beat Teutopolis’ Andy Niebrugge. (photo/Chet Piotrowski)

By Chet Piotrowski

Mattoon and Charleston golfers finished second and third place, respectively, at the inaugural St. Anthony Match Play Event at the Effingham Country Club on Monday afternoon.

In the match-play format where players compete head-to-head to win individual holes, a point is awarded to the winner and a half-point is awarded to both players for ties. Matches often end early when an opponent can no longer win, such as in Colton Romine’s 5 & 4 victory over Effingham’s Nick Burgess – which means that the Mattoon senior had a five-hole advantage with four holes remaining.

Each team played four individual nine-hole matches and four better-ball team matches for eight possible points.

The Green Wave earned 6½ points in this format, one point behind Vandalia. Charleston finished third after compiling 5½ points, followed by St. Anthony (5), Oblong (3½), Paris (3), Teutopolis (1) and Effingham, which did not earn a point. 

“I’m really proud of them,” Mattoon golf coach Bill Behrends said. “I think they were great. I think they were in positions to where they could succeed. I’m happy with how they managed the golf course. I’m extremely proud of them finishing third.”

Mattoon stormed ahead early, earning four points during matches on the front nine. In addition to Romine, Stewart Druin triumphed in his individual match, a 3 & 1 decision over Oblong’s Jake Smothers while Meade Johnson and James Shamdin defeated Teutopolis’ Gabe Schlink and Bennett Thompson, 5 & 3, and Blaine Powers and Evan Diedrich beat Charleston’s Peyton Daugherty and Cade Landrus, 3 & 2, in better-ball matches.

“I think they managed the golf course well, and, more than anything, had a great attitude,” Behrends said. 

On the back nine, both better-ball teams won again – Johnson-Shamdin beat Paris’s Chance Westerfield and Marcus Mitchell, 3 & 2, and Powers-Diedrich topped Effingham’s Preston Latch and Max Woelfer by the same score. Plus, Romine tied St. Anthony’s Thomas Chojnicki while Stewart Druin lost 2-up to Vandalia’s Conner McCall.

“Colton did a really great job today,” Behrends said. “He had a really tough draw in the second match (vs. Chojnicki) and earned a half-point. I’m proud of him for that. Our better-ball teams did great and won both their matches and played really well together. I was really happy with the teamwork that I saw between those guys. Stewart (Druin) got a good win in the first match, and a tough draw in the second. He battled and I’m proud of him. I thought it was a good learning experience as we move forward.”

The Trojans struggled on the front nine, earning 1½ points on victories by Preston Phillips – 4 & 2 over Paris’s Reese Wagoner – and a tie by Jackson Becker and Josh Will, who finished all square with St. Anthony’s Lane Ludwig and Aidan Tegeler.

“I think they had a good time,” Charleston golf coach Scott Dow said. “It was a different format than what we’ve played before. It was mentally challenging for some of them in areas.”

But Charleston swept all four back-nine matches. 

Phillips won again, topping Effingham’s Colby Haynes, 4 & 2, Pierson Smith beat Teutopolis’ Andy Niebrugge by the same score, and the best-ball teams of Becker-Will and Logan Beals-Cade Landrus each won, 2-up and 4 & 3, respectively.

“My number one, Pierson (Smith)  played super steady in both of his singles matches and drew the number one player in the field in his first match (Vandalia’s Chase Laack) and won easily in the second,” Dow said.

Dow said he was impressed by his freshman, Phillips. 

“He played singles and won both. He was steady,” Dow said. “He’s played the course. He’s my number five, but I put him number two in singles and I’m super proud of him. He was awesome. Cade Landrus and Peyton Daugherty played together and hit it a long ways. This is both of their first year playing high school matches. They struggled a little bit in the first round because they put some pressure on themselves and not being used to this format. They played a lot better in the second round.”