Tuesday was the end of the road for the Hillsboro boys golf team. All the anticipation, all the work, all the pressure of making it to the final round of the postseason was done and the four Hiltoppers were able to just go out and do what they do best... play golf.
And the junior quartet of Drake Vogel, Dillon Smail, Dominic Haggard and Preston Lyerla did just that. Taking on a tough course at Franklin County Country Club in West Frankfort and a tough 82-player, the Toppers all finished under 92 for the day, with Vogel posting the best round with a 79.
Vogel was lights out nearly from the start and finished in a tie for 17th. After a bogey on one, the junior birdied the par-4 second hole to come back to even. He’d double the next hole but broke off three straight pars to remain at 2-over through six holes. Vogel would finish the back nine with a 41, just 6-over-par for the day.
As good as the first nine was, the second was even better. Vogel would have just three bogeys on the front nine, all coming in the first five holes as he finished the day with three pars and a birdie on the par-5 seventh hole to shoot a 38 for the front nine and an 8-over-par 79 for the tournament.
Dillon Smail would be six holes in before his first par, sinking his putt on the par-3 16th hole, but he’d rebound from the 48 on the back nine on the front half of the course.
His par on the first hole would be one of five on the front nine as he peeled off three straight to end the round, giving him a 41 for the nine holes and an 89 for the day and a 56th place finish.
Dom Haggard would come in just two strokes behind Smail with a 91, posting five pars in his 18 holes to finish in a tie for 59th. Two of those pars would come back-to-back on the back nine, where he started the day with an 11-over-par 46.
Haggard then moved to the front nine, where he had three pars in the first four holes before finishing the round with a 45 for a 20-over-par for the tournament.
Preston Lyerla would round out the Hillsboro contingent as he finished in 65th place, despite finishing just one stroke behind Haggard with a 92. The junior Hiltopper had back-to-back 46s on the day, shooting a par and six bogeys on the back nine, then finishing with two pars and five bogeys on the front nine.
All told, Hillsboro played 72 holes against some of the toughest competition of the year (the last place finisher shot a 106). They would have just five holes worse than double bogey (three triples and one quadruple bogey), while picking up 23 pars and two birdies.
The Toppers were also the only school at West Frankfort to have four players qualify for sectionals, but not qualify as a team. Their team score of 351 would have put them in 11th at the Franklin County Country Club, but was better than six of the ten teams at the Tuscola Sectional and nine of the ten teams at the Sherrard Sectional.
Those are different courses and that makes a difference in golf, but all four players from Tuesday’s sectional are scheduled to return for their senior years next year, which should make for an exciting 2021 for fans of Hillsboro boys golf.
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.
Hillsboro: 17. Drake Vogel 79; 56. Dillon Smail 89; 59. Dom Haggard 91; 65. Preston Lyerla 92.