A three-way tie with some familiar faces kept freshman Ian Otto’s season alive as the Litchfield ninth grader punched his ticket to next Tuesday’s sectional tournament in West Frankfort.
In a highly competitive regional at Timber Lakes Golf Course in Staunton, Otto shot a 14-over-par 86 to snag a share of the last advancing spot to the Ziegler-Royalton Sectional at the Franklin County Country Club on Oct. 13.
Otto’s round, which came after he shot a 44 on the back nine, then backed it up with a 42 on the front half of the course, was one of three at 14-over for the tournament.
Hillsboro’s Preston Lyerla and Dominic Haggard also shot 86s as the trio tied for the fourth and final qualifying spot, meaning that all three would be making the trip south next week.
While Otto’s tournament finished on a high note, as a whole, Litchfield’s regional experience was a roller coaster. The Panthers finished fifth overall in the team standings with a 368, but were one of three teams to have all six players finish under 100. The other two teams, Vandalia and Alton Marquette, shot 298 and 326 and advanced to the sectional as a group.
With three freshmen, two sophomores and junior in Tuesday’s lineup, the regional was about doing as well as possible, but also about building experience for the future as well.
Tug Schwab, who has been Litchfield’s ace throughout much of the season, got his first taste of postseason golf and struggled at the start with a 49 on the back nine. He would rebound though, shooting a 40 on the front nine with six pars in his final seven holes. He would finish with an 89, good for 18th overall and just three strokes away from a sectional spot.
Sophomore Keagan Marten had a similar experience to Schwab, shooting a 54 on the back nine, before turning it on with two birdies and a 42 on the front half of the course. His 96 was good enough for 31st overall.
Junior Allen Schneider and freshman A.J. Odle would finish just behind Marten with a pair of 97s in 32nd spot. Schneider had rounds of 48 and 49 on the day with a pair of pars, while Odle went 54/43 in his debut with three pars on the back half of the course.
Like his teammates, Zach Boston improved as the day went on. Boston shot a 52 on the back nine, but improved on the front nine, shooting a 47, with a par on number two and a birdie on number four. His 99 was good for 37th.
While Otto prepares for sectionals, the rest of the Panthers have some time to prepare for next year. A year older doesn’t automatically mean a year better though, but if the Panthers can continue to build on this season, more success will be coming their way.
October 6 at Staunton
IHSA 1A Boys Golf
Mt. Olive Regional
Timber Lakes Golf Course - Par 72
Team Results: 1. Vandalia 298; 2. Alton Marquette Catholic 326; 3. Hillsboro 337; 4. Father McGivney Catholic 350; 5. Litchfield 368; 6. Staunton 378; 7. Mt. Olive 388; 8. Ramsey-Nokomis 392; 9. Gillespie 420; 10. Metro-East Lutheran 426.
Medalist: Chase Laack (V) 67.
Litchfield (368) - 12. Ian Otto 86; 18. Tug Schwab 89; 31. Keagan Marten 96; 32. Allen Schneider 97; 32. A.J. Odle 97; 37. Zach Boston 99.
Advancing Individuals: 5. Joey Hyten (Father McGivney) 78; 7. Dillon Smail (Hillsboro) 82; 10. Drake Vogel (Hillsboro) 83; 12. Preston Lyerla (Hillsboro) 86; 12. Ian Otto (Litchfield) 86; 12. Dom Haggard (Hillsboro) 86.