Minutes after the Class 2A boys golf tournament ended in Normal on Saturday, Benton players gathered at the practice green for pictures with a photographer.
He asked them to take poses with the runner-up plaque, which they dutifully did, but one could tell the smiles seemed forced. It wasn’t the plaque the Rangers wanted to collect when they made the four-hour trip north.
After taking a six-stroke lead into the second round, Benton fired and fell back. St. Ignatius College Prep surged, knocking nine shots off its first day score and beating the Rangers by nine strokes.
As his players were going through their paces with the photographer, Benton coach Reggie Norman was asked if this round would give them motivation for next year.
“Bet you 20 dollars right now that tomorrow, at least one of them will ask to meet for some one-on-one lessons,” he said.
Translation: Yes, and more so than you think. The best news is that the Rangers have their top five players back in 2022, including state champion Cy Norman. His 8-under par 134 was the best score by any of this weekend’s state champs.
Not only will Benton have experience and talent on its side, it will welcome even more depth. Norman anticipates at least one newcomer, maybe two, being able to contribute to the 2022 roster.
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And although Saturday’s round was a painful experience for the Rangers, Norman says it could help them next year.
“You look at our roster and this was a new experience for them, other than Cy,” Reggie Norman said. “They now know what this weekend is like. They’ll be more ready for this the next time.”
Week 8 of the prep football season will bring a trio of games with conference championship implications, including Benton’s trip to Murphysboro for SIRR Ohio supremacy.
The Rangers (7-0, 4-0) are the only unbeaten team in Southern Illinois, but their defense will get their greatest test to date. The Red Devils (6-1, 4-0) are coming off a 64-14 blowout at Harrisburg on Friday night in which they led 50-14 at halftime.
Murphysboro is averaging 38.8 points in the six games it’s actually played – it got a forfeit win from West Frankfort two weeks ago – and Benton has ceded just 25 points this year.
In the South Seven, Carbondale (5-2, 4-0) can earn the title outright by stopping Marion (6-1, 3-1) at Bleyer Field. The Terriers have won four straight games but still need a victory against either the Wildcats or unbeaten Mascoutah to officially clinch a postseason berth.
In SIRR Mississippi, Nashville (6-1, 4-0) merely needs a victory at Du Quoin (4-3, 3-1) to earn its second straight conference title. But the Hornets haven’t won at Van Metre Field since 2004, a stretch that includes a loss two years ago when they played for the Class 2A championship.
LOCALS IN COLLEGE
Maddie Misner (Carbondale) notched a season-high 17 digs Friday night for Division II McKendree in its match against Southwest Baptist. The junior outside hitter has started 10 matches, logging a season-high 13 kills on Sept. 11 against Upper Iowa.
Freshman wide receiver Tanner Eubanks (Sesser-Valier) came up with a 29-yard reception Saturday when Division III Greenville stopped Northwestern (Minn.) 35-23 in Greenville. It was the third catch of the year for Eubanks, who’s also contributed five special teams tackles for the 4-2 Panthers.
Averi Vanderzille (Carterville) collected two kills and two blocks Saturday night in SIU’s tough five-set Missouri Valley Conference loss at Davies Gym against Northern Iowa. The freshman notched a season-high five kills in an Oct. 1 defeat at Bradley.