SALEM — Traditional girls golf powers Nashville and Massac County took the top two spots in the Salem Class 1A Golf Sectional at Salem Country Club.

Nashville, with four scores under 90, took team honors at 332. Massac County was second at 346 and Effingham St. Anthony was the third team to advance to state at 358.

Massac County’s Millie Lawson earned medalist honors with a 76, edging Nashville’s Hope Rueter by a stroke.

“I’m very happy with that score,” said Nashville coach Doug Kell. “We had a 337 some time ago. I said if we could shoot that same score today I would take it in a minute and not step foot on the course. We shot 340 last week in regionals. This is a tough course, it has the potential to be a tough course.”

Kell said his team handled the quirky nature of the course well.

“After the first three holes, it’s a placement type course,” he said. “You’re probably not going to hit a lot of drivers. You’ll have to hit hybrids or even irons into the fairways and then place it to the next shot. It’s course management, totally.”

It was a grinding-type day. The first players teed off at 9 a.m. and the last players didn’t finish until about 5:30 p.m.

“The wait, that was a big deal,” Kell said. “We took maybe two hours longer than we did at regionals. The quirkiness of that fourth hole, it really bogged things down. Sometimes there were three groups on that tee waiting to play.”

In the meantime, the Massac County girls dedicated their second place finish to freshman Sadie Gray. Her father, Darin, was killed in an automobile accident last week. His funeral was Monday.

“We won the regional and the next day her dad died,” said Massac County coach Laurie Glass. “We kind of did it for Sadie. We had to stay up. We had to come and do it. Her dad was a big golfer. He’d be thrilled right now.”

“The whole time today I was playing for Sadie,” Lawson said. “It was a focus point definitely. We were trying to do this for her. We just love her to death. We hope she can get past this and lean on us.”

Lawson added the sectional medalist honor to her resume after winning the regional last week. The 76 was the best score of her career.

“I was just trying to take what the course would give me, not trying to take too much from it,” she said. “But, also trying to put up a good score so we could go to state.

“It’s (the course) very tricky. You really have to know where to place the ball. If you don’t know where to place the ball you’re probably most likely won’t have a shot going into the green. In order to get those birdie putts and par putts, you have to know where to place the ball.”

“Millie just played good, steady golf,” Glass said.

Lawson was playing in the same foursome as Nashville’s Rueter, but wasn’t aware they were going toe-to-toe for medalist honors. Rueter put her approach shot on 18 in the water, but recovered with a 10-12 foot downhill putt to post a bogey.

In the meantime, Lawson stared down a 15-foot birdie putt.

“There were a lot of nerves,” she said. “I just took a deep breath and went ahead and putted it. It was a little downhill and breaking to the left. I managed to slow it down just enough and stop it just before the hole.”

Ten individuals also advance to state, including a strong contingent from Southern Illinois.

Pinckneyville’s Megan Breslin shot a 79 to advance, followed by Alex Brummer, Effingham, 80; Josie Sykes, Carbondale; 80; Mallory Raber, Mount Carmel, 81; Makensy Emscheid, Waterloo, 82; Meg Schnoecker, Okawville, 82; Maddie Wenzel, Carmi, 84; Sarah Breslin, Pinckneyville, 85; Bailey Sharpmack, Roxana, 85; Rorrie House, West Frankfort, 85.

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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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