By Kyle Daubs

As far as anyone is concerned, Callan Haldorsen is a state qualifier. 

The Mattoon High School senior concluded her prep golf career Tuesday with her best performance yet. Haldorsen finished the Class 2A Champaign Centennial Sectional tied for seventh overall with a score of 79. Her score was just two strokes off from placing among the top five. 

“I was hopeful that I would place at sectionals, but I knew I was going to have a lot of competition to go up against,” said Haldorsen. “It’s really unfortunate that we aren’t able to have a state event because this is the year where I had finally qualified to compete. I was really proud of myself for placing and knowing that I would’ve gone to state.”

Due to COVID-19, a state series will not be conducted. Despite that, the IHSA was able to pull off a regional and sectional postseason, so “qualifying” has an artificial feeling. 

That’s why Haldorsen’s play in this stage will always be remembered. 

“This season didn’t exactly turn out how I’d hoped for, considering the cancellations,” Haldorsen said, “but I definitely wasn’t expecting to place at sectionals, which made my final round even more memorable.”

Haldorsen carded four pars and five bogeys for a 41 on the front nine and sat at plus-9 through 13 holes. She then caught fire. Haldorsen birdied the 328-yard par-4 No. 14, made par on the ensuing two holes and finished with two more birdies – on the 428-yard, par-5 No. 17 and the 137-yard, par-3 No. 18.

“I started the back with some bogeys and doubles, so I started getting nervous for my score,” said Haldorsen. “However, I started kicking into gear and ended up being 3-under through my last five holes, which led me to PR with a 79.”

Haldorsen remained calm through her early challeneges

“She started off a little rocky, then leveled out and stayed calm and collected, which is her M.O,” said MHS coach Natalie Ambuehl. “Her front nine finished just fine. On the back nine she had a rough start with a couple bogeys and a double. I thought her goose was cooked, but, in true Callan style, she didn’t panic.”

Ambuehl said that Halrosen “had a tricky save” for par on 16 that “gave her the confidence and momentum” to birdie 17. The hole was a par-5 and Haldrosen hit a shot out of the sand that found the bottom of the cup. 

She followed that with a par-3 on No. 18, where she struck a shot onto the green. Her opponent missed the putt, and Haldorsen drained her shot to secure her seventh-place medal and a “state berth.”

It would have been the first time that Haldrosen played at the state level after qualifying for sectionals last year. 

“I am so disappointed she can’t continue her play at the state level, which she would have qualified for,” said Ambuehl. “What a great high school career.”

Haldosen is undecided on her golf future. If all fails, she said she plans to attend Eastern Illinois University for academics. 

“Honestly, I’m still considering my options for college,” said Haldorsen. “I would like to play golf in college, but I haven’t really reached out yet to see where I can go.”