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Junior Derrick Herker will represent the Vandalia High School golf team at the state tournament in Bloomington on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s kind of like a dream,” Herker said.
Herker advanced to the tournament after shooting a 76 in his sectional round at Crab Orchard Golf Course in Carterville.
Because there were seven individuals who shot 76s, but only six spots available for the state tournament, Herker had to earn his spot on playoff holes, which he did by shooting par on the second.
Teammate Blake Swofford narrowly missed an opportunity to qualify for state, shooting a 77. Herker thinks having a familiar face with him at the tournament would ease his nerves some, but he is still going to make the best of his opportunity.
“It would be a relief knowing I’d have another teammate there,” Herker said. “Knowing that I could talk to somebody there (would be great).”
Herker made quite a turnaround from his regional showing, where he shot a disappointing 86. Vandalia, as a team, finished second, however, allowing Herker a chance for redemption.
Herker has had some trouble controlling his emotions during rounds this season, but getting that under control allowed him to have a 10-stroke improvement between rounds.
“He kept his head in the game, didn’t give anything up when he got mad and he finally pulled it all together when it counted,” coach Brandon Taylor said.
Like all individuals at the state meet, Herker wants to come out on top, but if he comes away with a top-15 finish, he will be satisfied.
Getting that finish, he said, will take smart play and good putting.
“I’m just going to keep that in the back of my head that I need to play smart and not stupid,” Herker said.
Herker is scheduled for a 10 a.m. tee time on Friday, starting at the 10th tee. He is in a group with Ian Keith (Junior from Brimfield), Dub Knight (Senior from Auburn) and Michael Molt (Senior from Fairfield).
Monday, Oct. 11
at Carterville Sectional
Vandalia placed ninth at its sectional with 330.
Individual scores – Herker, 76; Swofford, 77; Wes Lindsey, 88; Josh Lawson, 89; Zack Reiss, 93; Zach Jackson, 93.
Tuesday, Oct. 5
at Staunton Regional
Hillsboro - 320
Vandalia - 336
Greenville - 338
Individual scores – Swofford, 74; Lindsey, 85; Herker, 86; Lawson, 90; Jackson, 91; Reiss, 98.