By Kyle Daubs

For the first time in five seasons, the Apollo Conference won’t feature three-time state champ Lauren Chappell or Kira Wolf.

The two NCAA Division I athletes are instead competing at their own respective colleges – Southern Methodist and Minnesota. That means that the race towards the top of the conference is going to be tight and a fun story to follow. 

We have three individuals who figure to compete for the top spot, while the team race appears to favor Charleston. For more, take a look at the full preview of the Apollo Conference girls golf match, set to begin Monday at Mahomet’s Lake of the Woods course.

Schools are reviewed in alphabetical order below.

Charleston

Hannah Harpster will get a chance to become the first Lady Trojan to win the Apollo crown since Lauren Chappell. Harpster had led a solid Charleston squad in nearly every match, and is coming off a 2-over-par 38 at the U of I Blue Golf Course in Champaign. 

Charleston owns wins over Mattoon, Mount Zion, Effingham, and Teutopolis this season. Along with Harpster, Madeline Sanders, Taryn Pearson and Madeline Sanders have consistently shot in the mid- to upper-40s across nine holes. Charleston is 15-1 in dual matches. 

Effingham

Last year, Effingham qualified for the state tournament for the first time in school history. This year, the team has played second fiddle to Charleston in the majority of matches. However, senior Ava Boehm has battled for medalist honors at nearly every match. Boehm is coming off medalist honors (37) at Sullivan Country Club. Anna Sigg (44) has been the team’s consistent No. 2 golfer. 

Lincoln

Lincoln finished last to Mount Zion and Mahomet-Seymour earlier in the season and those are the only results on Lincoln that have been published. No members from last year received All-Apollo. 

Mahomet-Seymour

The predominately young Lady Bulldogs are led by sophomore Ainsley Winters, a Second-Team All-Area pick as a freshman after advancing to the Sectional in 2019. Winters carded a 45 to earn medalist honors at Decatur’s South Side Country Club earlier this season. 

“Ainsley Winters is our number one and has the potential to be All Conference as a sophomore,” said Mahomet coach Troy Gagne. 

This year, Mahomet-Seymour has defeated Mt. Zion, Lincoln and Mattoon. Their victory over Mattoon last week gave the team a three-match win streak and a 3-0 mark in the Apollo and an overall record of 4-2. 

“The team is getting better every day and continues to work hard,” said Gagne. “We are a very young team in regards to experience so a reasonable goal for us would be to finish in the top half of the conference.”

Mattoon

In a rebuilding year, the Green Wave feature one of the top individual golfers in the Apollo – senior Callan Haldorsen. Along with Mackenzie Bratton, Haldorsen qualified for the Sectional last year. Haldorsen has finished near the top at every golf outing this season. 

As the clear cut No. 1 on the team, Haldorsen sees herself as a contender for the Apollo title as well. 

“I believe that I am in the running for top individuals,” Haldorsen said. “The main girls that I am competing with are Ava Boehm from Effingham and Hannah Harpster from Charleston. They have been playing well this season and I know they are going to be tough competition for the individual champion. All three of us seniors are just trying to win the title while we have one more chance.”

From a team standpoint, there were many newcomers to the golf team once volleyball was delayed until later this year. Despite the youth, Haldorsen says Mattoon will give their best effort even though she believes Charleston and Effingham should be the favorites to win the team title. 

“As a team, we have definitely improved a bunch since the beginning of our season, but we aren’t really focused on winning the Apollo this year,” said Haldorsen. “We have four of the six girls who are competing in their first conference this year. For them, it’ll be more about having fun and enjoying the experience rather than placing, but they have been working hard. And I know we are all going to put forth our best effort.”

Mt. Zion 

Kenzie Shumate, who picked up golf when volleyball season was pushed back, has been the team’s top golfer this season. She has improved since shooting a 62 at the beginning of the season. Shumate shot 47 earlier this week in a 199-207 loss to Effingham. The Braves’ Bethany Warner shot 52 in the match, followed by Lauren Kyburz at 53 and Peyton Graves at 55.

Last year, Mount Zion placed fourth in the Apollo before advancing to the Sectional as a team in Class 1A. The team’s top three scorers graduated, including the team’s lone Apollo Conference selection in Riley Houser. 

Taylorville 

Taylorville’s Sophia Robinson recently shot a 49 at Oak Terrace Golf Club to lead the Tornadoes to wins over Lincolnwood-Morrisonville and Pana. Robinson could be in contention for a spot on the All-Apollo team. 

Teutopolis 

Teutopolis, competing in its first Apollo Conference championships, could feature an individual champion as well. Despite falling to Charleston a week ago by 14 strokes, Averie Bushue who was crowned medalist (42) at Cardinal Golf Course. 

While Coach Craig Toller says Boehm should be favored, he noted that Bushue is playing well down the stretch. 

“Averie Bushue is our best player,” said Toller. “She is averaging 43 right now. She has played her best three rounds of the year the last three.”

T-Town has not played many Apollo teams aside from Charleston and Effingham this season due to geographical positioning with COVID-19. The team has posted a 5-8-1 overall record. 

“Our team is playing better as of late,” said Toller. “We shot our best round of the year as a team last week.”

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