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Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette Centennial's Damien McMullen, right, smiles after chipping his ball close to the flag on the 9th hole in the 2A Centennial Regional at UI courses in Savoy on Monday, October 7, 2019. Smiling with him is Centennial asst. golf coach Ryan Miller.Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette Centennial's Damien McMullen, right, smiles after chipping his ball close to the flag on the 9th hole in the 2A Centennial Regional at UI courses in Savoy on Monday, October 7, 2019. Smiling with him is Centennial asst. golf coach Ryan Miller.

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SAVOY — Damien McMullen often has been his own biggest critic on the golf course.

Centennial boys’ golf coach Brian Easter, however, is seeing a shift in McMullen’s behavior during the Chargers senior’s last rounds on the prep scene.

“His attitude has been much improved,” Easter said. “He doesn’t get as down on himself in every instance like he used to.”

McMullen left himself little to be upset about, anyway, in Monday’s Class 2A Centennial Regional at the U of I Golf Course.

Though his 77 wasn’t enough to get the Chargers into sectional play as a team, McMullen qualified solo and finished just one shot shy of a three-way playoff for first place.

“I’m glad he has that fire where he’s not content to just post a 77, even though that is a really good score,” Easter said. “He had some challenges out there on the course that he navigated pretty well.”

McMullen was the lone Centennial athlete to advance to the Oct. 14 2A Macomb Sectional at Macomb Country Club.

Last year, he was one of three Chargers who could claim a sectional berth, though none wound up moving on to the state tournament.

Easter believes 2019 could be different for McMullen’s state prospects.

“If he can give it a really smart approach to how he plays the course, he definitely has the potential to post a really good score,” Easter said. “Also, in my opinion, it’s one of the toughest sectionals in the state. It will take another round like (Monday’s).”

Also in this regional, Champaign Central delivered a second-place showing that was fueled by Justin McCoy’s medalist 76, landing behind Normal U-High by a 318-319 margin. That still allowed the Maroons to advance to the sectional round as a team.

McCoy overcame Normal U-High’s Brevin Knight and Bloomington’s TJ Barger for the title, recording a second-hole birdie in the playoff.

Other individuals traveling to Macomb with McMullen and the Central boys are Prairie Central’s Payton Dunahee (77), Carson Friedman (84) and Trey Bazzell (87), Rantoul/Paxton-Buckley-Loda’s Trey VanWinkle (85), Casey Dillman (85) and Jalen Childs (85), and Urbana’s Matt Horner (87).

Class 2A Mattoon Regional

Two Purple Riders advance. Despite serving as Arcola/Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond’s Nos. 4 and 5 golfers, Alex Kuhns and Derek Tuttle moved on to sectional action via their efforts Monday at Mattoon Country Club.

Kuhns shot 88 and Tuttle carded 89 for the Purple Riders, who put forth a 360 team score to tie for fifth of nine programs.

The Arcola athletes’ next tournament occurs Oct. 14 with the 2A Charleston Sectional, hosted by Charleston Country Club.

Class 2A Springfield Regional

Schmid moves forward. Clinton’s Carson Schmid kept his season alive by carding an 85 at Lincoln Greens Golf Course on Monday, good for the third-best score among advancing individuals.

Schmid couldn’t propel the Maroons forward, as they placed seventh of seven teams with a collective 399. The junior Schmid will compete at the Oct. 14 2A Macomb Sectional, hosted by Macomb Country Club.

Class 1A Oakwood Regional

Falcons win again. Devyn Roesch didn’t have to wait long to experience success with Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley boys’ golf.

The first-year Falcons coach on Monday witnessed Bryce Boundy securing medalist status with a 78 as GCMS outlasted Schlarman 342-346 for the regional title, the Falcons’ second in as many years.

“It feels awesome,” Roesch said. “They knew they could play well, and I just wanted to come in and show them how to win.”

Braden Roesch’s 86 played a strong second fiddle for GCMS, which now will try to make up for a sectional letdown the year prior.

The Falcons slipped to ninth place on that stage in 2018 and didn’t advance anyone to state individually. The Oct. 14 1A El Paso-Gridley Sectional, held at El Paso Golf Club, offers a chance for redemption.

“The direction is looking very, very good,” Roesch said. “This team knows what they are very much capable of.”

Schlarman and Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin rounded out this regional’s top three teams, also advancing to the sectional. The Hilltoppers were led by Gabe Huddleston’s 83, and the Blue Devils by Kevin Clapp’s 82.

Locals achieving sectional qualification individually were St. Thomas More’s Noah Eyman (82), Blue Ridge’s Aaron Jayne (85), Oakwood’s Logan Hoshauer (88), St. Joseph-Ogden’s Payton Grimsley (89) and Joe Acton (89), Judah Christian’s Jayden Clouse (91), Cissna Park’s Gavin Spiers (91), and LeRoy’s Ty Egan (93) and Walker Bossingham (94).

Class 1A Okaw Valley Regional

Redskins, Sages thrive. Behind sophomore Tanner Buehnerkemper and freshman William Ross, Monticello on Monday secured a team sectional berth by way of a second-place regional effort at Eagle Creek Golf Course.

The Sages finished behind Sullivan (348-357), which won a regional for the third consecutive year. Redskins junior Drew Rogers garnered medalist honors with a 79.

But Monticello’s output was all the more impressive considering its top four scores came from underclassmen, paced by Buehnerkemper’s 86 and Ross’ 87.

“We feel really good about it,” Sages coach Andrew Turner said. “It’s a tough course that can mentally kind of get you challenged there. I was really excited about how they performed.”

Joining Buehnerkemper and Ross under 100 on the day were Monticello juniors Matt Erickson (92) and Ben Potts (92).

Working in the Sages’ favor is the Oct. 14 1A El Paso-Gridley Sectional being played on the same course — El Paso Golf Club — at which the Illini Prairie Conference Tournament was held.

“The thing we’ll talk about in practice (Tuesday) is are you going to be satisfied with this, or are we going to compete again and bust our butts and try to get on to state,” Turner said. “They’re the kind of group I don’t think they will be (satisfied).”

Joining kids from Sullivan and Monticello in advancing to the sectional are Tri-County’s Holden Kile (87) and Jacob Knofsky (89), Bement’s Zach Rogers (91) and Luke Rogers (98), and Villa Grove/Heritage’s Zach Buesing (96).

Class 1A Watseka Regional

Seven locals push ahead. Watseka, Milford and Iroquois West on Monday each qualified multiple individuals for the next round of postseason play, with a combined seven boys from those schools posting a strong enough score at Shewami Country Club.

The Warriors’ Lukas Ball recorded a 79, ranking third overall and best among athletes not on advancing teams. He’ll be joined at the Oct. 14 1A El Paso-Gridley Sectional, held at El Paso Golf Club, by teammates Jordan Schroeder (95) and Leevi Bruens (97).

Also following that lead are Bearcats James Birch (87) and CJ VanHoveln (95), as well as Raiders Kade Kimmel (91) and Ryan Tilstra (92).

Watseka took fourth in the 13-team field with a 369 total, Milford landed sixth at 381 and Iroquois West secured seventh at 386.

Prep Sports Coordinator

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).