By Kyle Daubs

While Mattoon is on the hunt for its third-ever sectional golf championship, Benton sophomore Cy Norman stands as the favorite to earn the individual sectional title when the Green Wave travel today for the IHSA Class 2A Centralia Sectional at Greenview Golf Course. 

Norman fired a 66 last week to lead Benton to a Regional Championship at Green Hills Golf Club in Mount Vernon. The team’s score of 307 is the best overall score out of the four regional finalists, and it definitely has caught the attention of MHS head coach Bill Behrends. 

“It’s tough to know who is the team favorite from our perspective because we haven’t played against any of these teams this season except Paris, who was in our regional,” said Behrends. “We have heard that Benton is really good, and their score from the regional tournament was impressive.”

Behind Norman, junior Andrew Bell shot a 77, while freshman Luke Melvin (81), junior Keaton House (83), and sophomore Nick Melvin (86) rounded out the top five. Those scores are also without telling what senior Peyton Sieveking can do, who was listed as a DQ. 

Despite being listed as the third-best team score (328), the Green Wave believe they are a contender to win it. The team entered with senior Meade Johnson coming off an individual championship with a round of 77, while Stewart Druin (82) and Colton Romine (83) were right behind him. 

Freshman Evan Diedrich carded an 86, while sophomore Blaine Powers (in photo above), who is typically a top-four scorer, dipped to an 88. 

“We played well enough to win the regional, but we struggled a bit with the course conditions,” said Behrends. “I am impressed with our grit, especially compared with the field we played against, and I think that will serve us well at the sectional.  However, we do need to improve some things with our course management before the sectional.  I fully believe we can contend to win, but we will have to bring our “A” games because there won’t be much margin for error.”

The second best team score belongs to Jacksonville, which fired a 322 in the Roxana Regional at Bell Park Golf Course. Junior Brady Kaufman led the way with a score of 72, followed by senior Aydin Folker (81) and Trey Bourn (83). 

Highland also won its regional with a score of 336 at Orchard Golf Course. Senior Evan Sutton led the team with a card of 77. 

Among the other qualifiers include Mascoutah, Carbondale, Chatham-Glenwood, and Paris. Among the individual qualifiers, Breese Central’s Nate Rakers won the Mascoutah Regional with a score of 74, while Lawrenceville’s Cameren Way finished just one stroke behind Mattoon’s Johnson. 

“We are excited that we get to continue playing,” said Behrends. “Our goals for this season were to win the Apollo Conference tournament and the Regional tournament, and we accomplished those goals.  Being able to play in the sectional is the icing on the cake.”