CARLYLE – Drew Sobol figured the East-Alton Wood River Oilers got what they deserved Tuesday.
And there was plenty to get. The Oilers qualified for the boys’ state golf tournament for the first time in school history. EA-WR carded a 328 score to share second place in the Trenton Wesclin Class 1A Sectional at Governor's Run Golf Course.
“It feels pretty good and it’s a great accomplishment,” said Sobol, a sophomore. “It’s what we have been looking for all year.”
Brett Gaines, a senior, made sure the Oilers secured their trip to the IHSA small-school finals this weekend. He logged a 6-over-par 78 to finish fifth and lead them.
“It’s one of the best rounds I’ve had for 18 holes,” said Gaines, who recorded scores of 41 and 37. He had three birdies overall, two on the back nine.
Gaines added, “Our goal was to get to state as a team. Overall, I felt pretty good today. I was hitting pretty good tee shots Monday and today, my irons worked best. I like the layout of this course and its design.”
Nashville tallied a 324 total to win the sectional championship of the two-day tournament that was suspended by rain and lightning Monday afternoon. It marked the Hornets’ third sectional title in the last four years.
Effingham St. Anthony shot a 328 and tied with EA-WR for the runner-up spot. Hamilton County recorded a 329 and just missed going to state. Waterloo Gibault’s Sam Range registered 72, or par, for individual honors.
“It’s the best round we’ve played all season and it really shows the character of these kids,” EA-WR coach Dave Sobol said.
Jake Hei (81), Drew Sobol (84) and Hunter O’Brien (85) complemented Gaines in contributing to the EA-WR cause. The Oilers, who finished 26-6 in duals, await state competition Friday at the Prairie Vista Course in Bloomington.
“This is huge for our kids, program, school and community,” coach Sobol said. “We’ve never had a team or even a player advance to state. So naturally, I’m elated and so happy for the kids.”
The top three teams and 10 best individuals not on those squads advanced to the state tournament. Mount Olive’s William Murphy shot a 79 and was one of the individual players to advance.
Rain pelted the Clinton County Course for a second consecutive day, but the golfers, representing 12 teams and 27 others schools, found a way to work through it.
“I’m amazed how everybody played under these conditions,” noted tournament director Tom Hund, the Wesclin director of athletics.
Dave Sobol saw the Oilers retain their focus. “We played well and with the attitude that every shot counts. We talked about playing our best and not taking anything for granted,” the coach said.
The Oilers wanted to come out strong, Drew Sobol said. They finished third in the Metro East Lutheran Regional and vowed to do better here.
“We had a group meeting after the regional and got fired up for the sectional,” he said. “It’s really cool to be going to state and an awesome feeling.”
EA-WR plans to head for Bloomington on Wednesday and practice Thursday before playing its first 18 holes Friday.
“This takes a big monkey off our backs in going to state,” coach Sobol said. “We’ve been close to going, but never quite made it. I have to pinch myself now.
“It’s going to be fun at state.”
Drew Sobol put it this way: “We want to go out with a bang.”