Winner of two major tournament titles and considered by most as a favorite to contend for the Class 3A state championship, Edwardsville senior Justin Hemings admitted he was nervous for much of his round on Tuesday at Class 3A Edwardsville Golf Regional.
It simply made no difference.
Playing his final competitive high school round at Oak Brook Golf Course, Hemings fashioned a 4-under par 67 to take medalist honors as he led Edwardsville to an 18-stroke win over perennial state power Quincy in the eight-team event.
“It was my last regional tournament and the last time I would be playing out here (Oak Brook) for the Edwardsville golf team. Plus, I really wanted to win it,” Hemings said. “I was nervous when I teed off and actually for the front nine.
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“I made the turn even (par) and then on the back nine I just finally told myself there was really nothing to be nervous about and made four birdies coming in to shoot 67 The back nine I hit the ball in the fairway off the rtee and gave myself some birdie chances.’’
Hemings’ 67 gave him a three-stroke win over David Crosby of Belleville West and paved the way for the Tigers second straight regional title as Edwardsville took advantage of ideal weather conditions that featured sunny skies with little breeze and the home course to finish with a team score of 289. Southwestern Conference champion Tanner White added a 73, Cale Ambuehl shot 74 and Luke Babington and Ben Tyrell shot rounds of 75 for Edwardsville.
Quincy, getting a round of 74 from T.J. Wensing, shot a team score of 307, while O’Fallon placed third with a score of 316. All three schools will advance to the Alton Sectional on Oct. 12 at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course.
As good as Edwardsville was on Tuesday, its 289 total was just its third lowest score of the season.
“We shot 287 and 288 earlier this year, but the 289 was the lowest I can remember us shooting at a regional tournament — at least since I’ve been coaching,” Edwardsville coach Dene Schickedanz said. “Oak Brook is not an easy course but I thought we just played very, very well. We’re anxious to play at Spencer T. Olin next week. It’s close to home and we’ve played there many times.’’
O’Fallon also played well and earned a trip to the sectional. Second in the Southwestern Conference Tournament a week ago at rugged Stonewolf Golf Club, the Panthers got rounds of 77 from Logan Harris and Lucas Hackmann, a 78 from Elliott Walkington and 84 from Zach Hess to finish with a 316 score and edge Belleville West (320) for the third and final sectional berth.
“We were able to put four very solid rounds together. It was a very strong team effort,” O’Fallon coach Kevin Kellermann said. “We thought that if we came up here and played the way we were capable of playing that we had a chance of advancing. That’s exactly what we did.”
Crosby also earned a bid into the sectional and will be joined by nine other individuals who qualified to play at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course. Sam Bernosky (77) will join Crosby as the Belleville West entries, while Belleville East will be represented by Austin Galloway (79) and Andrew O’Bryan (84).
Collinsville and Granite City will have three players each playing at Alton’s fine golf course. Advancing from Collinsville were John Misiewicz (79). Jacob Ehlert (82) and Parker Marchbanks (83). Gavin Grote (78). David Keel (79) and Riley Brown (84) all of Granite City advanced.