Benton’s boys golf team is 18 holes away from school history.
The Rangers established a six-stroke lead over Wheaton Academy and St. Ignatius College Prep after the first round of the IHSA Class 2A Tournament on Friday at Weibring Golf Course in Normal. Benton shot a 7-over par 291.
What’s more, junior Cy Norman will take the individual lead into the second round Saturday after firing a 5-under par 66. Norman bagged six birdies and had just one bogey in carving out a 1-stroke lead on Wheaton Academy junior Sam Dykema.
Norman’s teammates chipped in with mostly solid golf. Freshman River Stilley finished at 1-over 72, while Luke Melvin carded a 2-over 73. Kash Cantrell, Nick Melvin and Andrew Bell each turned in 80s.
Carbondale junior Ian Davis has work to do if he’s to complete a sweep of the postseason. After shooting a combined 10-under par to win the Mount Vernon Regional and Effingham Sectional, Davis settled for a 2-over par 73 on Friday.
Breese Mater Dei, which defeated Benton on Monday at the Effingham Sectional, couldn’t quite reach that level of play Friday. The Knights were fifth in the first round, carding a 16-over par 304.
The Rangers will take the course Saturday morning at 10:09 a.m. They have finished second at the state tourney three times, most recently in 2018 when the event was shortened to one round after Friday’s 18 holes were snowed out. But they have never won a state title.
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At the Class 1A boys tourney in Bloomington, Anna-Jonesboro senior Luke Lasley is in contention for a state championship after firing an even-par 72, just two shots behind co-leaders Chase Laack (Vandalia) and Drew Hall (Rockridge). Goreville’s A.J. Johnson settled for a 79., running into trouble on the back nine with a pair of double bogeys.
At the Class 2A girls tournament in Decatur, Marion’s Sarah Capel is on the fringe of contention after finishing at 7-over par 79 in the first round. Yorkville’s Mia Natividad posted a 2-under 70 to take a 1-stroke lead into Saturday.
Massac County is in eighth place out of 12 teams at the Class 1A girls tourney, also in Decatur. The Patriots recorded a score of 350, led by junior Josie Walker with an 82. Regional champ Elise Coakley and Izzy Hawes carded 88s apiece, while Katie Frazine recorded a 92.
Alton Marquette’s Gracie Piar blistered the course for a 7-under 65, registering eight birdies to take a six-stroke lead.