MOUNT CARMEL, Ill. – The boy’s golf team at Mount Carmel High School is a veteran team, with four seniors leading the way. Meanwhile, the Lady Aces team is devoid of seniors, relying on freshmen and sophomores for leadership.
On Thursday, at the season-opening Mount Carmel Invitational, it didn’t matter. Both Aces teams finished at the top of the standings in their respective divisions.
Boys coach John White, beginning his 12th year at the helm, was dutifully impressed with his team’s cumulative round of 309. So much so that if they turn that score again in two months at the sectional tournament, that score may land them a berth in the Class 1A state tournament.
“That was a good win,” White said. “I knew we were going to have a good team. (A score of) 309 will get you to state. The first of October we’ve got to be shooting the same score as we are right now. But, I was really happy with our performance today.”
The Aces tandem of Dawson Brown and Blake Golden finished 1-2 on the day. Brown’s medalist total of 72 topped Golden by two shots.
Brown, who said he “drove the ball well today, putted pretty good, and didn’t get in any trouble,” does not feel any extra pressure to be leader as a senior. Because he and Golden were in the same spot as juniors last year.
“Last year (Blake and I) were pretty much the leaders anyway, so we really don’t have to take on that leadership role this year. So, it’s more just going out and playing good rounds,” Brown said.
Brayden Peterson fired a round of 80, good for sixth place overall, and Wade Ruth added an 83. Other Aces scores included: Clayton Halbig (85), Colton Etzkorn (88), Jett West (98) and Mark Zimmerman (108).
Mount Carmel won the title by 20 shots over Hamilton County (329). The Lawrenceville-Red Hill combo team was third at 342, followed by an improving Fairfield team coached by ex-Aces standout and White protégé Andrew Williams (347). Carmi (364) rounded out the field. Harrisburg sent three players as individuals, lacking a fourth for a team score.
Karin Kelsey was also impressed with her the way her ninth Lady Aces team opened the season, handling tournament pressure like veterans.
“I was very very pleased that the girls came back with a win,” Kelsey said. “I have freshman and sophomore, and that’s hard to do, to come out and win a tournament like this on the very first day. I’m sure that will motivate the girls to do well the rest of the season.”
Mount Carmel’s total of 403 was five shots better than runner-up Hamilton County (408). Carmi was third (452) and Harrisburg fourth (458). Fairfield fielded two golfers, not enough for a team score.
Sophomore Allyson Armstrong led the Lady Aces with a round of 93, good enough for a sixth-place finish in the tourney. Freshman Maya Smith carded a 99, finishing fourth overall. Those two “are going to battle for first position on the team all year long,” Kelsey said.
Faith Witsman recorded a 105, and Nevaeh Brock a 106 to round out the scoring for the LA’s.
Next up for Kelsey’s team is a first-ever trip to the Casey Invitational, on Monday. White’s boys have back-to-back matches coming up, an invite at Robinson on Monday followed by a dual at Harrisburg on Tuesday.
White is glad for the chance to get one more 18-hole invitational in before classes begin next Wednesday. “The more 18-hole rounds you play the better,” he said. “You’ve got to keep your concentration going. You can do that for nine holes, but 18 is tough.”
BY THE NUMBERS
- MOUNT CARMEL 309 (Dawson Brown 72, Blake Golden 74, Brayden Peterson 80, Wade Ruth 83), 2. HAMILTON COUNTY 329, 3. LAWRENCEVILLE 342, 4. FAIRFIELD 347, 5. CARMI 364. Harrisburg entered three individuals, not enough for a score.
- OTHER ACES RESULTS: Clayton Halbig 85, Colton Etzkorn 88, Jett West 98, Max Zimmerman 108.
- MOUNT CARMEL 403 (Allyson Armstrong 93, Maya Smith 99, Faith Witsman 105, Nevaeh Brock 106), 2. HAMILTON COUNTY 408, 3. CARMI 452, 4. HARRISBURG 458. Fairfield entered two individuals, not enough for a score.