VCHS golfers Jared Herker and Wes Lindsey overcame adverse conditions last week at Oak Terrace Golf Course, advancing out of the Pana Regional despite having to play 18 holes in a steady downpour.
But the Vandal duo could not overcome unfamiliar conditions Monday at Arrow Head Heights Golf Course in Quincy – yes, Quincy – as they came up short of qualifying for the state tournament after tough rounds in the Camp Point Central Sectional.
Coming off a second-place 77 at the Pana Regional, Herker shot an 88 in his second sectional appearance, while Lindsey finished with a 95 in his first sectional.
Both scores were well short of the state cut.
‘Our sectional tournament didn’t go as planned, but it was a great experience for everyone who went,’ Vandalia coach Andy Whitten said. ‘It took 80 to get out as an individual, so we packed up and went to Steak and Shake to soak our sorrows in chili and cheese sauce. It works quite well, actually.’
Though their tasty post-sectional meal did provide some closure for Herker and Lindsey, both still seem baffled about their sectional assignment, which was 185 miles away from home.
‘Three and a half hours was a kind of a ridiculous drive,’ Herker said. ‘It’s kind of tough playing a course you’ve never seen except for the day before. And the conditions weren’t very good; the course wasn’t taken very good care of. It was tough.’
Despite a lack of familiarity with the course, Herker was confident he could qualify for state as a senior. But it turns out, he went in a little over-confident.
‘I figured I’d play as well as I did at regionals, but I guess I had too much of a big head and kind of blew it,’ Herker said. ‘My senior year was the year to do it.’
Herker had moments where he played as well as he did at the regional, but a couple of rough holes did him in.
Herker started off well on the front nine before running into trouble on hole No. 6 when he hit his approach to the green into a creek.
‘After that, I kind of got down on myself, and the whole front nine was downhill from there,’ Herker said.
He bounced back on the first few holes of the back nine, however, and was 1-over-par as he came up to hole 16. But he put his tee shot out of bounds on that hole, and things unraveled down the stretch.
‘It was downhill from there, and I couldn’t recoup,’ Herker said.
Lindsey, just a sophomore, not only had the pressure of playing in his first sectional to deal with – he was also playing a course he’d never seen prior to Sunday.
‘It was a different experience, different pressure,’ Lindsey said. ‘I’ve never played a round up there.’
Fortunately, Lindsey will have two more opportunities to qualify for state.