Charleston High celebrates its second consecutive IHSA state boys title.

By Kyle Daubs

Coles County has been the center for golf in the state for both boys and girls golf for much of the past decade.

Charleston girls won one state champion and boasted three-time individual titlist Lauren Chappell.

The Charleston boys won back-to-back state championships, and both schools featured multiple all-state players.

Charleston added two regional and sectional championships over a three-year span as well. And this year, Mattoon would be a strong contender if a state event were to be allowed.

Former CHS head coach Randy Harpster had big shoes to fill when he took over for Stan Adkins, who had dedicated more than 40 years of service time to Charleston golf teams. However, his five-year run was impressive, finishing 78-9 in dual matches. 

Mattoon stole plenty of the spotlight for themselves. Mattoon teams won three IHSA Regional titles, one Sectional title, and qualified for state three times during the decade. Bob Lockart officially called it quits after last year, finishing his 16-year run with a dual match record of 159-34. 

Four members from this All-Decade team currently play at Eastern Illinois. Nearly every member of this team finished All-State at least once. 

No. 6: Keegan Gowin (CHS Class of 2019): Gowin was outstanding during Regional and Sectional play for the Trojans. As a sophomore, his second-best individual score helped Charleston win a Regional in 2016. He followed that up by scoring the best card for a team that won the Sectional Championship. As a senior, he led CHS to another Regional title and was one stroke from the best score at the Sectional. Gowin never finished All-State, but he served a critical player in Charleston’s two state title teams. Gowin currently golfs for EIU. 

No. 5: Kris Heller (MHS Class of 2012): Heller qualified for state as a junior, finishing 33rd. He was an All Big 12 Conference golfer that turned in the best MHS state finish for a golfer at the time. As a senior, Heller led Mattoon’s Regional title team. At state, he finished in a tie for seventh place. His score of 152 was just one stroke away from a tie for third and four strokes from a state championship. 

No. 4: Robert Rardin (CHS Class of 2019): Rardin had one of the best individual performances when he finished sixth overall as a junior. Rardin’s All-State performance helped lead CHS to its first state championship. As a senior, Rardin finished 20th overall. All throughout his career, Rardin finished in the middle of the pack, which was no fault of his own. There was a core in place that was lined up to be successful and Rardin was instrumental in that. He now golfs at Illinois-Springfield. 

Robert Rardin

No. 3: Ben Lanman (CHS Class of 2019): Lanman was a state qualifier as a freshman. The following season, Lanman led Charleston to a Regional title with the best overall score. As a junior, he finished 10th overall at the state tournament. He capped his career off by leading the team to a Sectional Championship with the team’s lowest score. Then, at state, he just missed All-State status by finishing 28th overall. Lanman currently golfs at EIU. 

No. 2: Preston Smith (CHS Class of 2019): Smith made the state tournament three times and finished All-State two times. As a junior, Smith finished 12th overall and then fifth overall as a senior. His fifth-place finish was the highest finish by an individual since Greg Peterson won the state championship in 1978. Smith currently plays at EIU. 

Nicholas Nguyen

No. 1: Nicholas Nguyen (MHS Class of 2018): As a team, Charleston had the best success, but Nguyen was the best individual golfer of the decade. Nguyen, who competed against state championship talent, normally found himself on top. As a freshman, Nguyen was the second-best golfer for Mattoon’s Sectional Championship team. He followed that season up by finishing as the Regional medalist and led Mattoon to a Regional title as a sophomore. As a junior, he was the top golfer for Mattoon’s state-qualifying team and finished 11th in the state. As a senior, he was the Regional medalist again, helping lead Mattoon to another Regional title as a team. At state, he finished with the decade’s best overall finish by placing fourth overall. He currently golfs at EIU. 

NOTE: Check out our other all-decade teams by searching through our drop-down menu for categories on the website. We will post a new all-decade sports team each Monday.

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