MT. VERNON — Twenty-one.
It’s just a number, but it holds far more significance than you may think.
For the St. Anthony boys golf team, that is the case. The Bulldogs recently won their 21st regional championship under head coach Phil Zaccari, doing so at Green Hills Golf Club in Mt. Vernon.
“It just means I’ve been here a long time,” Zaccari laughed. “This is my 25th year coaching and 21 regionals; that’s nice. I keep trying to tell the guys that it’s just another tournament. We’ve got a good bunch of kids and they work so hard and it’s nice to win.”
St. Anthony finished with a team score of 283, or one-under-par.
Dakota Flaig and Joey Trupiano each carded one-under-par rounds of 70.
Flaig earned individual medalist honors after defeating Trupiano in a one-hole playoff on the first hole.
“It means a lot, considering last year, I didn’t even play in the regionals,” Flaig said. “I didn’t even have my best game today and (it was good) knowing I could still get it done and help my team.”
Flaig joked that it was good to beat a friend, as well.
“It’s always a good time beating Joey. Nothing’s better because I have bragging rights for the rest of the day,” he laughed.
The junior fired a two-under-par 34 on the front and an even-par 36 on the back.
Flaig carded a birdie on the sixth and eighth holes and bogeyed the first.
“I started with a bogey and then I settled down and made a couple of nice, clutch par putts and from then on, I knew I had it,” he said.
He then added two more birdies on the back but compounded that with two bogeys.
“I like how I kept myself together and stayed mentally tough, in the game and not worrying about what my score is,” Flaig said.
For Trupiano, he shot the opposite of Flaig, firing an even-par 36 on the front and a two-under-par 34 on the back.
“I felt I was hitting it better on the front nine than I did on the back; putts just weren’t going how I wanted and there were a couple of silly mistakes, but I still kept myself in it,” Trupiano said. “I switched over and made a silly bogey and then I rattled off two birdies in a row and then I birdied No. 17 to get me tied for first, which was really helpful.”
The two other scores that counted were senior Preston Phillips (even-par 71) and senior Lane Ludwig (one-over-par 72). Senior Charlie Wegman (four-over-par 75) and junior Ryan Schmidt (nine-over-par 80) did not count.
“This was a very good win,” Zaccari said. “I like the way the team is starting to come together at the right time, but it is golf, so we have to take it the next one at a time. It’s 1st-and-10, and now, we got to take care of sectionals.”
What the Bulldogs also got to take care of, though, was a little bit of revenge.
The last time St. Anthony played a postseason match at Green Hills Golf Club, they lost the sectional championship to Oblong by one shot.
“I like the way we’ve improved,” Zaccari said. “Usually, the course, we didn’t play it terribly long today and usually that kind of goes against us, but we have been working so hard on our short game and basically inside-100. We’re starting to develop that to where they’re hitting drives and we’re getting up-and-down. Our team has evolved into some pretty good golfers.”
Teutopolis and McLeansboro (Hamilton County) were the other two teams advancing.
The Wooden Shoes finished with a team score of 320; Hamilton County shot a 330.
Sophomore Coen Pennington led T-Town with a 72. Freshman Isaac Weber shot an 80. Senior Ethan Thoele shot an 83 and senior Hayden Jansen shot an 85.
Junior Brody Thoele (87) and senior Kole Ohnesorge (89) did not count toward the team total.
Newton and Altamont also sent teams but did not qualify for the sectional round.
The Eagles shot a team score of 350; the Indians shot a 368.
For Newton, junior Grant Fulton fired a 79, sophomore Michael Kennedy shot an 82, junior Gunner James shot an 89 and junior Evan Johnson shot a 100. Freshman Ajay McCann fired a 119 and did not count.
For Altamont, senior Gavin Flack shot an 88, senior Daniel McCammon shot a 92 and freshman Kaiden Wolff and junior Tyler Ruffner each shot a 94. Junior Hayden Summers (100) and senior Justin Kollmann (106) did not count.
A pair of local individuals also competed.
North Clay junior Riley Poe finished in a tie for 35th with a final round of 90 and sophomore Jacob Arnold finished 60th with a 111.
Teams and individuals advancing will play at Acorns Golf Links in Waterloo on Monday. Tee times start at 8:30 a.m.
MT. VERNON — Twenty-one.