CARTERVILLE — Rain or shine, the weather stood no chance against the patience of four River-to-River schools that went to battle at Crab Orchard Golf Course on Wednesday.
Teams waited out the rain roughly an hour before hitting the green around 5 p.m., and once the sun came out it was Benton’s time to shine. The Rangers finished the evening with a team score of 152 behind sophomore Cy Norman’s 33 through nine holes. The finish pushes Benton to a 9-0 record through three competitions on a day where Carterville finished 26 strokes behind in second-place.
“There was a point where I didn’t think we’d be able to play,” Norman said on the rain delay. “We came out and it really wasn’t that wet, and the course was really nice.”
Norman first played at Crab Orchard in last season's regional when he was a freshman. This year he is tweaking his swing to change the shape of the ball. The change has allowed Norman to finish with scores of 32, 33 and 33 through his first three contests.
His secret has been steadily competing in golf tournaments since late May. Norman reached par in his first four holes on Wednesday before notching three-straight birdies on holes 5-7, and then parring the final two.
“I hit the ball well for the first couple of holes, but struggled off the tee so I was scrambling to get par at times,” said Norman. “At the end of the day, it just feels good being back out on the course with my team.”
Benton’s other sophomore Nick Melvin finished with the second-best score in the competition at 37. Melvin outlasted Carterville’s Aaron Kemp (44) on his group's scorecard by capping off holes four and six with birdies before the two matched one another at par on the final two holes.
Rounding out the top scores for Benton was Keaton House (40), Payton Sieveking (42), Luke Melvin (43) and Andrew Bell (44). The Rangers youth plays towards the young core that head coach Reggie Norman believes his team has moving forward.
“It’s been a good start to the year,” said Coach Norman. “I really think that this team can continue to improve and if they do they’ll win a lot. Hopefully they do what’s necessary to continue to lower the scores and we’ll see what happens.”
Spencer Brown led Carterville on the evening with a score of 41. Coach Andrew Harrell was the man in charge of determining how long the rain delay would last, and holding off on postponing the event was something that the fellow coaches appreciated.
“There’s a lot of coaches that would have shut the competition down quick...too quick,” said Coach Norman. “We want to play and waiting an hour is not that big of a deal. I appreciate Coach Harrell for sticking it out and it ended up being a beautiful day.”
Norman believes that there will be plenty of bright days ahead for Benton given that the team is graduating one senior after this season and introducing a “boatload of talent” through the younger levels.
“Right now it’s good to be a Ranger,” Coach Norman said with a smile behind his mask.
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