With ten freshmen or sophomores, half of whom played significant roles on varsity, this year was about learning and growth for the Litchfield boys golf team. That was the case on Tuesday, Oct. 13, too, as LHS freshman Ian Otto hit the links at the Franklin County Country Club in West Frankfort for the Ziegler-Royalton Sectional.
Going up against some of the best in the state, Otto would challenge himself and soak in the experience.
“It’s the most challenging course we played all year with very tough greens,” Coach Dan Newkirk said. “Ian had a great experience playing at a high level on a higher level golf course.”
Starting on the back nine, Otto finished 14-over-par at the turn, with one par and one triple bogey. The rest of the holes were either bogeys (three) or double bogeys (four) as he worked against the wind and the challenging course.
The front nine would be just as difficult, with the nine holes measuring 3,165 yards. Otto picked up four more bogeys and four other doubles, with a quad on the par-5 490 yard seventh hole the only outlier in the round.
Take that out and Otto most likely would have broken 100, but still came close with a 101. His round was good for 79th place, where he tied Joseph Pugh of Oblong High School.
The competition was so good at West Frankfort that the last place finisher shot a 106 at the course, an impressive number for 82nd place.
The winner, West Frankfort’s Tyson Elko, carded a 2-under 69, one of two rounds under par, along with Anna-Jonesboro’s Luke Lasley, who shot a 70.
This year’s South Central Conference team champ, Vandalia, would win the sectional championship with a 310, beating Breese Mater Dei by six and Waterloo Gibault by ten.
The Vandals got a pair of 76s from Chase Laack and Conner McCall, who tied for eighth, while Riley Ruckman was a stroke back with a 77 in a tie for tenth. Jonah Beesley would give Vandalia four in the top ten with an 81, good enough for 24th spot, while Dylan Halford (85) and Jacob Schaal (99) finished 48th and 78th respectively.
The Vandals will expect big things again next year as they lose only Ruckman to graduation, but Litchfield also brings back a host of young talent. Otto’s experiences at sectionals, along with those gained by his young teammates throughout the season will do nothing but help the Purple Panthers in 2021. Tuesday was the end of the season for Litchfield, but the real story is just beginning.
Oct. 13 at West Frankfort
Boys Class 1A Sectional
Franklin Country Club - Par 71
Team Results: 1. Vandalia 310; 2. Breese Mater Dei 316; 3. Waterloo Gibault 320; 4. Trico 326; 5. Belleville Althoff Catholic 327; 5. West Frankfort 327; 7. Alton Marquette 336; 8. Oblong 337; 9. Carmi-White County 338; 10. Hamilton County 344.
Medalist: Tyson Elko (West Frankfort) 69.
Litchfield: Ian Otto 101.