MURPHYSBORO — West Frankfort placed its top three golfers in the top eight to win its first regional title since 2000 and advance to the sectionals for the first time since 2006 at the Trico Class 1A boys golf regional hosted by Jackson County Country Club on Tuesday.
"We’ve been grinding all year and a lot of work finally paid off,” said West Frankfort coach Mike Karoski. “We didn’t play quite as well as I think we’re capable of playing with regional jitters and all of that, but they fought through all of that, especially our last three kids, closing out strong. Bryson Dorris, C.J. Johnson and Tyson Elko have been real consistent all year, so I’m real proud of all the kids.”
Elko carded a 77 to lead the Redbirds. The sophomore finished tied for second with Chester sophomore Jarrett James, who advanced to the sectional as an individual for the first time, and Eldorado junior Evan Coyle, who advanced for the third time.
Also scoring for the Redbirds were three seniors: Johnson with an 81, Dorris (84) and Ryley House (90). Rounding out the Redbird squad were seniors Gabe Campbell (95) and Ryan Hopkins (96).
Trico’s Edward Brees earned medalist honors tying his career-best with a three-over par 74 to advance to the sectionals. The junior led the Pioneers to a second place finish, earning their second straight trip to the sectional.
Also scoring for Trico were sophomores Ross Coleman (85), Peyton Lovel (88) and Tyler Compton (96), along with freshman Logan Cleland (96). Rounding out the squad was sophomore Zach Thies (99).
“It’s nice to get the boys in,” said Trico coach Tyler Coleman. “Eddie Brees getting first is a great deal for us. Coleman and Lovel shooting in the mid 80’s was pretty big for us to get that advancing score, but I would like to get one of the 90s score down to the 80s with the rest of those boys. The team’s playing good golf and I’m very excited for these boys.”
Brees was in the final foursome that teed off on the front nine. He got off to a terrible start with double bogey on the 397-yard, par 4 dogleg left hole one. He recovered with two pars and a birdie before losing three more strokes on a double bogey on five, followed by a single bogey on six.
“I didn’t particularly think about winning, considering I had two double bogeys on the first five holes,” Brees said.
He recovered once again with a par, followed by back-to-back birdies to make the turn at three-over par 38.
“I was thinking at the turn, I was happy not being four over,” Brees said. “I thought as long as I play the back nine good enough, I got a good chance of medaling or close to it. I didn’t know what the other scores were until the last hole when somebody told me the medalist was 75, so I knew I had to get a birdie.”
Brees finished strong with a birdie on 18 after suffering a bogey on 12 to finish at even par and three-over for the round. He won the title by three strokes.
“My best hole was my last hole,” Brees said. “I took out my driver even though it’s a really tight par 4, and everybody was thinking I was crazy for doing it. But I ended up hitting down the middle and got an easy birdie from that.”
Anna-Jonesboro finished three strokes behind Trico and three strokes ahead of Chester to advance to the sectionals for the second straight season. Freshman Luke Lasley led the Wildcats with an 83 to finish in seventh place overall.
“We made it out, but it was pretty nerve-wracking,” said Anna-Jonesboro coach Brendan Bierstedt. “This is probably one of the highest rounds we’ve played in a while. We really got a great showcase by our three and four guys, Peter Houser and Trent Mason, who really picked our team up and bailed out our one and two guys. My number two, Luke, who won the conference, struggled a little bit getting off to a rough start with three-putting from about five-feet away and Carson, our number one, also had a seven on the very first hole, so we were behind the eight ball at the get-go.”
The other scorers for the Wildcats were junior Peter Hauser (84), senior Carson Reynolds (86) and sophomore Trent Mason (93). Freshman Ayden Bailey rounded out the squad with a 102.
The remaining advancing individuals were Eldorado sophomore Noah Smith (80), Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher senior Dalton Saeger (85), Vienna senior Josh McGill (85), Chester sophomore Chett Andrews (86), Hardin County sophomore Calen Banks (87), Goreville freshman A. J. Johnson (88), Chester sophomore Jaden Mott (89) and Vienna sophomore Drew Mosier (90).