SALEM — It was a rough day for Southern Illinois boys golf teams at the Salem Class 2A Sectional, but a very good one for Zach Williams.
The Mount Vernon senior carded a 2-under par 70 to claim medalist honors at Salem Country Club.
“It was just awesome, and it was a lot of fun today even though I honestly didn’t play well,” Williams said. “But I grinded real well. I putted great, and I chipped very well, too. It is also really cool to win both, not just the sectional, but the regional, too.”
On Oct. 3, Williams also delivered a 2-under 70 at Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Carbondale. The Mount Vernon senior even gave up playing baseball last season to focus more on golf. That decision is paying off.
“I couldn’t be happier to do all of this my senior year,” Williams said. “I went to a new golf coach over in Chesterfield, Missouri, named Brian Fogt. We worked on a swing change last year. I really love golf, and we started doing the summer tournaments and traveling around. I have received a couple offers for college, and I’m holding out for something maybe bigger. I definitely plan to go play somewhere in college for sure.”
Charleston finished first as a team with a score of 307 followed by Althoff Catholic at 309. Quincy Notre Dame took the final qualifying spot at 312. All three of those schools advanced to the state tournament.
Carbondale just missed out on advancing to state as a team with a 314, good enough for fourth place. Zach Pereira shot a 75, and he’ll make the trip to Normal as an individual.
“The front nine is really interesting, and there are a lot of different holes that you really have to pick your way around,” Pereira said. “I ended up one over for the front nine, which put me in good position for the back.”
Pereira made three birdies on his first six holes, but also had a triple bogey. The senior said it was the most interesting six holes of his life.
The Terriers had a great season, but came up just two strokes short of advancing to state as a team.
“We had a lot of potential, and it was really difficult for us to not make it by two strokes, especially after the excellent season we’ve had,” Pereira said. “It was depressing because I feel like a lot of us could have shaved two strokes off of our scores, all six of us felt that way. It was a good season overall, but I am sad that I’m the only person going up because I thought we deserved it as a team. But 314 is a good score to put up at any high school tournament, and I feel like we should be proud of it.”
The only other local individuals advancing to state were Centralia’s Caleb Urshan (75) and Massac County’s Brock Willmes (76).
Benton finished sixth as a team with a 320, and Centralia carded a 326, which was the eighth best team score. Massac County shot a 337 for 11th place.
The Class 2A state tournament takes place on Friday and Saturday at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State University in Normal.