With three freshmen, two sophomores and a junior teeing off for Litchfield at the South Central Conference Tournament on Tuesday, Sept. 29, it was hard to know what to expect.
But as they have done repeatedly this season, the young Purple Panthers answered the challenge and came up with a solid third place finish behind Vandalia and Hillsboro.
The Vandals entered the tournament as the favorites and did nothing on Tuesday, to show that notion was false. Shooting a 297 as a team, the Vandals put five players in the top ten, including the top three spots with Chase Laack (71), Conner McCall (72) and Jacob Schaal (73). Dylan Halford (81) and Riley Ruckman (84) would finish sixth and tenth, while sixth man Jonah Beesley wasn’t far behind with an 86. Even without Laack and McCall’s scores the Vandals would have still shot a 324, 15 strokes better than the second place Toppers.
Litchfield did hold the honor of having the first player not in red in the top five as freshman Tug Schwab finished fourth in his SCC tourney debut. Schwab, who has been Litchfield’s ace all season, shot a 78 to join the Vandalia trio as the only players to shoot in the 70s.
While the Panthers only had one player in the top ten, they would be one of just three schools to place all six players under 100 for the tournament.
Zach Boston, who shot a 107 at last year’s tourney, carded an 85 on Tuesday to narrowly miss an all-conference spot. Ian Otto would make his freshman conference tournament debut by shooting a 90, while Keagan Marten contributed the fourth scoring round with a 93, the same score he shot last year as a freshman.
In the fifth slot, A.J. Odle added a 97, which would have been a scoring round for the Panthers last year, while Allen Schneider shot a 99 on Tuesday for a nine stroke improvement over last year.
With only three seniors on their roster, the Panthers will be poised to improve at next year’s conference tournament. But that improvement may not mean a big jump in the standings as both Vandalia and Hillsboro return five of their top six players next year.
Litchfield, who ended their regular season on Wednesday with a match at the Litchfield Country Club, will be at the Mt. Olive Regional on Oct. 6, at the Timber Lakes Golf Course in Staunton. Joining them there will be Alton Marquette, Metro-East Lutheran, Father McGivney, Hillsboro, Mt. Olive, Ramsey-Nokomis, Staunton and Vandalia.
Sept. 29 at Fillmore
South Central Conference Boys Golf Tournament
Indian Springs - Par 71
Boys Team Results: 1. Vandalia 297, 2. Hillsboro 339, 3. Litchfield 346, 4. Carlinville 354, 5. Roxana 371, 6. Staunton 373, 7. Greenville 386, 8. Pana 411, 9. Southwestern 458.
All-Conference: 1. Chase Laack (Vandalia) 71; 2. Conner McCall (Vandalia) 72; 3. Jacob Schaal (Vandalia) 73; 4. Tug Schwab (Litchfield) 78; 5. Dom Haggard (Hillsboro) 80; 6. Henry Kufa (Carlinville 81; 6. Dylan Halford (Vandalia) 81; 8. Christian Floyd (Roxana) 82; 8. Preston Lyerla (Hillsboro) 82; 10. Riley Ruckman (Vandalia) 84.
Vandalia (297) - Chase Laack 71, Conner McCall 72, Jacob Schaal 73, Dylan Halford 81, Riley Ruckman 84, Jonah Beesley 86.
Hillsboro (339) - Dom Haggard 80, Preston Lyerla 82, Drake Vogel 88, Tad Daniels 89, Dillon Smail 89, Devin Speiser 93.
Litchfield (346) - Tug Schwab 78, Zach Boston 85, Ian Otto 90, Keagan Marten 93, A.J. Odle 97, Allen Schneider 99.
Carlinville (354) - Henry Kufa 81, Ethen Siglock 86, Jack Stayton 93, Mason Duckles 94, Sam Quarton 94, Matt Reiher 101.
Roxana (371) - Chritian Floyd 82, Zack Stangler 93, Jackson Harris 94, Cade Slayden 102, Logan Wonders 108, Jaden DiPaolo 116.
Staunton (373) - Broc Best 85, Blake Moore 93, Luke Dewitt 96, Preston Denney 99, Caden Shearlock 99, Sam Best 100.
Greenville (386) - Christian Bauer 87, Ryan Heath 91, Leno Calderiaro 94, Dakota Lloyd 114, Dustin Rehkemper 120.
Pana (411) - Austin Karbach 92, Ryan Karbach 102, Brant Bowker 106, Griffin Kimbrel 111, Jaxon Rhoades 112, Cole Noll 116.
Southwestern (458) - Roland Thyer 97, Jordan Cottingham 120, Kaydn Hines 120, Chase Cummings 121.