DANVILLE – For the past few years, the St. Thomas More golf machine has been a nemesis for Salt Fork.
No matter how good the Storm has been, St. Thomas More has always been a little bit better. Up until last week when the Sabers won the Class A regional at Urbana Country Club by 2 shots, it seemed as if Salt Fork would continue to play second fiddle to the Sabers.
That changed Monday at Harrison Park as the Storm finished 8 strokes better than the defending Class 1A state champions to earn a spot in this weekend's state finals in Bloomington.
"I was disappointed when we lost the regional last week and I know the kids were disappointed, too," Salt Fork coach Dave McCoy said. "They were just wanting to come back and I'm sure glad they did."
The Storm finished second to champion Effingham St. Anthony thanks to individual champion David Keenan, who carded a 1-under-par 71 at Harrison Park. Keenan's sectional crown comes a week after he claimed medalist honors at the regional.
"He's sure peaked at the right time," McCoy said.
"Things just went well today," Keenan said. "The course sets up very well because I know it so well. It's good for us as a team because we all know it so well."
This is the first time the Storm has advanced to state in McCoy's 16 years in charge. It'll be Keenan's second straight trip to the finals after advancing as an individual last year as a sophomore.
"It'll be more fun this year," Keenan said. "Last year I was alone, so this will be more enjoyable."
Keenan was backed up by a trio of teammates – Jordan Danzl, Mat Bowen and Ryan Anderson – who all shot 76.
St. Thomas More will send three individuals to the finals but will not be able to challenge for a second straight state title. Ben Dodds (73), Jordan Wellinghoff (76) and Nathaniel Khachaturian (77) will represent the Sabers.
"We've lost to them a lot during our careers, and it felt really good to finally beat them," Keenan said. "We knew we had a pretty good chance. Last week we probably should have beat them. It just didn't happen."
Schlarman's Greyson Pasco, Monticello's Nick Huisinga and St. Joseph-Ogden's Mason Silver also advanced.
At Lincoln. Mahomet-Seymour punched its ticket to the Class 2A finals with a second-place finish at Lincoln Elks on Monday. The Bulldogs finished second to Corn Belt rival Normal U-High and finished 3 strokes better than Centennial to claim one of two slots.
Nick Guth's 72 tied for the day's second-best score in leading M-S. Seth Trolia (77), Grant Dukeman (78) and Adam Guth (82) also helped the Bulldogs.
Centennial's Austin Hunt, who won a regional championship at Mattoon last week, carded a 74 and earned a place in the finals.